Palestine. For most of us, the word brings to mind a series of confused images and disjointed associations—massacres, refugee camps, UN resolutions, settlements, terrorist attacks, war, occupation, checkered kuffiyehs and suicide bombers, a seemingly endless cycle of death and destruction. This novel does not shy away from such painful images, but it is first and foremost a powerful human story, following the life of a young girl from her days in the village of al-Tantoura in Palestine up to the dawn of the new century. We participate in events as they unfold, seeing them through the uneducated but sharply intelligent mind of Ruqayya, as she tries to make sense of all that has happened to her and her family. With her, we live her love of her land and of her people; we feel the repeated pain of loss, of diaspora, and of cross-generational misunderstanding; and above all, we come to know her indomitable human spirit. As we read we discover that we have become part of Ruqayya’s family, and her voice will remain with us long after we have closed the book.
The Woman from Tantoura
A Novel of Palestine
Palestine. For most of us, the word brings to mind a series of confused images and disjointed associations—massacres, refugee camps, UN resolutions,
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 and she supervised and edited the Arabic translation of Volume 9 of The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism (2006). She was professor of English and comparative literature at Ain Shams University, Cairo. She received 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 Radwa Ashour’s The Woman From Tantoura 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.