Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Radwa Ashour 1946-2014

Radwa Ashour with her husband, Mourid el-Barghouti. Barghouti and Ashour met as students at Cairo University in the 1960s, and he writes about the beginnings of their relationship in his second memoir, I Was Born There, I Was Born Here, trans. Humphrey Davies.

Egyptian writer and academic Radwa Ashour died late on Sunday at the age of 68 after suffering from health troubles over the past few months. Ashour, born 26 May 1946 in Cairo, studied English literature at Cairo University and earned her MA in comparative literature in 1972.  She is best known for her Granada Trilogy, Ashour was married to the Palestinian poet Mourid El-Barghouti and is the mother of the poet Tamim El-Barghouti. In 1977, El-Barghouti was deported from Egypt; she and her son spent a great deal of their lives visiting him in Hungary.
Ashour supervised the translation of the Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, which came out in several volumes. She also wrote The Woman from Tantoura, which was recently released by the AUC press.
In her autobiography, Atqal Min Radwa (Heavier than Radwa), she recounted her fight with cancer, weaving in the Egyptian revolution's setbacks and victories. Her other works include Hagar Dafi' (A Warm Stone, 1985), Khadija and Sawsan (1989), Qit'a Min Orouba (A Piece from Europe, 2003) and the Granada Trilogy, which included Granada (1994), Mariam (1995) and Al-Raheel (The Departure, 1995). The trilogy was translated into English and published by Syracuse University Press in 2003. The trilogy’s first part won the Cairo International Book Fair's Book of the Year Award in 1994, while the trilogy as a whole won first prize at the first Arab Women's Book Fair in 1995. The trilogy deals with events following the capitulation of the last Muslim ruler of Spain, Abu Abdullah Mohammed in 1491, the year Granada fell; it was voted as one of the top 100 literary works by the Arab Writer’s Union.

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