- The Woman from Tantoura
The Woman from Tantoura
A Novel from Palestine
by Radwa Ashour
Translated by Kay Heikkinen
A rich, sweeping novel of Palestine with the Nakba at its heart, by an acclaimed author
Ruqayya was only thirteen when the Nakba came to her village in Palestine in 1948. The massacre in Tantoura drove her from her home and from everything she had ever known. She had not left her village before, but she would never return. Now an old woman, Ruqayya looks back on a long life in exile, one that has taken her to Syria, Lebanon, the Gulf, and given her children and grandchildren. Through her depth of experience and her indomitable spirit, we live her love of her land, her family, and her people, and we feel the repeated pain of loss and of diaspora.
Radwa Ashour (1946–2014) is a highly acclaimed Egyptian writer and scholar. She is the author of more than fifteen works of fiction, memoir, and criticism, including Granada (AUC Press, 2008) and Specters (AUC Press, 2010), and was a recipient of the Constantine Cavafy Prize for Literature and the prestigious Owais Prize for Fiction.
Kay Heikkinen is a translator and academic who holds a PhD from Harvard University. She was previously Ibn Rushd Lecturer of Arabic at the University of Chicago. Among other books, she has translated Naguib Mahfouz’s In the Time of Love and Huzama Habayeb's Velvet, for which she was awarded the 2020 Saif-Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation. She lives in Seattle, Washington.
“Gives new insight into the known and hidden chapters of Palestinian history. It is also a celebration of Palestinian popular culture, of unsung heroes, big and small acts of resistance, creativity and resilience in the face of overwhelming odds.”—Sally Bland, Jordan Times
“Some books have a way of enchanting, attracting, and drawing you to leave your world and start a life among its pages. The Woman from Tantoura, the latest masterpiece from Egyptian writer Radwa Ashour, is exactly that kind of book.”—Diwan al-Arab
“Rich, challenging and indisputably important . . . a grand narrative of Palestinian life since the Nakba . . . Read this book. Then read it again, and then lend it to your friends.” —Electronic Intifada
“Radwa Ashour was a powerful voice among Egyptian writers of the postwar generation and a writer of exceptional integrity and courage. Her work consistently engages with her country’s history and reflects passionately upon it . . . She will surely occupy an important place in the story to which she attended with such sensitivity and conscience."—The Guardian
“One of the most influential writers in Arab region”—Egypt Independent
“Ashour writes beautifully, balancing her own talent for evocative.”—India Stoughton, The Daily Star
"[P]rovides an understanding of the Nakba and forced displacement of Palestinians and what it means for a person to lose their homeland and become a refugee. It also provides insight into Palestine, its history, its villages and cities, about the torments of its people and their steadfastness, about its songs, heritage and trees and about the story of its people in precise detail."—Middle East Monitor
“Radwa Ashour reveals her sublime talent in her novel The Woman from Tantoura. Serious-minded, severe, and profound, [it] is an unforgettable story about the human search for meaning in the wake of suffering and tragedy. Highly recommended.”—The Midwest Book Review
“An important writer whose exemplary work we need more of in English”—The Independent
"A delightful read . . . recommended for anyone who wishes to understand the human cost of the Palestinian plight."—The Muslim World Book Review