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Date & Time

Monday, November 18, 2019
6:00 PM


Seminary Co-op Bookstore


Free and open to the public

More Information


Seminary Co-op Bookstore
(773) 752-4381


"This novel is a place where love, dejection, transgression and embrace converge; developing a scene of egregious realism via a lavish narrative that embodies enchanting and shocking moments and real people, of flesh and blood, with idiosyncratic feelings Habayeb unhesitatingly uncovers." —from the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature Award citation

Kay Heikkinen discusses "Velvet." She will be joined in conversation by Ghenwa Hayek. A Q&A will follow the discussion.

In partnership with the University in Chicago The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

At the Co-op

About the book: Hawa 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 Hawa’s life, as she makes plans for a new beginning that may take her out of the camp. She sifts back through her memories of the past: the stories of her family, her childhood, and her beloved mentor, who invited her into the glamorous world of the rich women of Amman. This is a novel of enormous power and great beauty. Rich in detail, it tells of the women of the camp, and the joy and relief that can be captured amid repression and sorrow.

About the translator: 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."

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.

About the interlocutor: Ghenwa Hayek is Associate Professor of Modern Arabic Literature in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. She is a scholar of the literary and cultural formations of identity in the modern Arab Middle East (19thC - present). Her research, which focuses specifically on Lebanon, is situated at the intersection of literary and cultural studies, critical geography and urban studies, history, and gender studies. Her first book, "Beirut, Imagining the City: Space and Place in Lebanese Literature", was published in 2015, and she is currently working on a book tentatively titled, "Carrying Africa", Becoming Lebanese: Emigration Anxiety in Lebanese Culture.