AUC Press

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Huzama Habayeb


Successful, acclaimed writer in the Arab world, this novel is her debut in English translation

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 Hawwas 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.

Winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature

Intimate, powerful descriptions of life in refugee camps and, in particular, of Palestinian women's lives

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