Author(s): Radwa Ashour
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 kouffiyehs 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.
Radwa Ashour, a highly acclaimed Egyptian writer and scholar, is the author of more than fifteen books of fiction, memoir, and criticism, including Granada (AUC Press, 2008) and Specters (AUC Press, 2010). She is a recipient of the Constantine Cavafy Prize for Literature and the prestigious Owais Prize for Fiction. Kay Heikkinen holds a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University, where she first became interested in Arabic history, language, and literature. She has taught medieval history and literature as well as Islamic civilization, and currently teaches Arabic at the University of Chicago. She is the translator of Naguib Mahfouz's In the Time of Love (AUC Press, 2010).