The Woman from Tantoura

Radwa Ashour
Translated by Kay Heikkinen


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.


“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

“an important writer whose exemplary work we need more of in English”—The Independent

“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

“one of the most influential writers in Arab region”—Egypt Independent



Radwa Ashour

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.

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  • March 5th 2019
  • $17.95 / £11.99 / LE250
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9789774169007

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