Ranya Abdelrahman (Translator), Samira Azzam (Author)
In June of 1967, after watching the shape of her country suddenly change for the second time, with hundreds of thousands more Palestinians expelled from their homes, Samira Azzam destroyed the novel she had been working on. Its title must have seemed particularly tragic in the wake of ’67: Sinai Without Borders. Two months later, at the age of 39, Azzam went on a road trip with friends. They were outside of al-Ramtha, Syria, when she suffered a heart attack and died. We had Samira Azzam (1927–1967) for far too few years, and we never got to read what she would do with a novel. Still, she did leave us with five vivid short-story collections, as well as reviews, articles, translations, and countless hours of broadcast radio. Yet after her death, her work fell into a half-shadow, in which she was acknowledged as great, but not quite canonized. In a 2018 article on the Palestinian short story, the critic Faisal Darraj says it plainly: “Azzam has not yet received the accolades she deserves.” This translated collection -- full of her vivid snapshots of life in Palestine and Lebanon in the first half of the twentieth century -- is a start at giving Samira Azzam a few of the accolades she deserves.