Winner of The Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature
A novel of enormous power and great beauty, in which a Palestinian woman raised in a refugee camp learns to sew which helps her to construct a life.
Hawwa is a child of the grinding hardship of a Palestinian refugee camp. She has had to survive the camp itself, as well as the humiliation and destruction of an abusive family life. But now, later in life, something most unexpected has happened: she has fallen in love.
Velvet unfolds over a day in Hawwa’s life, as she makes plans for a new beginning. She sifts through her memories: stories of her family, her childhood, and her beloved mentor, Sitt Qamar, who among other gifts, taught her to sew, and most importantly, taught her to value herself. Velvet is the story of one woman’s resilience, her unyielding sensuality, and the enduring bonds that make life bearable.
About the Author
Huzama Habayeb is a Palestinian writer who was born and raised in Kuwait, where she started writing and publishing short stories, poetry, and journalistic pieces as a student. When the Gulf War erupted in 1990, she fled to Jordan and established her reputation as a short-story writer. Her first novel, Root of Passion , was published in 2007 to wide critical acclaim. Velvet is her third novel and her first to be available in English.
Kay Heikkinen is a translator and academic who holds a PhD from Harvard University and is currently 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 Radwa Ashour’s The Woman From Tantoura.