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One of Egypt's leading writers, Radwa 'Ashur has published a number of novels and collections of short stories in Arabic. She is perhaps best known for her Granada Trilogy (Thulathiyyat granata), published in Arabic in 1994-95. The first part has recently been translated into English by William Granara as Granada: A Novel (Syracuse University Press, 2003). A novel in three parts recounting the history of three generations of a Spanish Arab family from 1491 to 1609, it won the best novel award at the International Cairo Book Fair in 1994 and first prize at the first exhibition for Arab women writers in November 1995. Reconstructing the high period of Arab civilization in Spain and the final Arab exodus from the peninsula-a loss still vivid in the collective memory of the Arab world-the underlying catalyst for the novel, much like the story "A Clean Kill," was, in fact, the first Gulf War. In much of 'Ashur's work, the current situations in Iraq and Palestine serve to evoke memories of other troubled periods in Arab history, which-though she avoids straightforward or simplistic allegory-often become metaphors for the present day.
"A Clean Kill" (Qatal nazif) is taken from a collection of short stories entitled The Reports of Madame "R" (Taqarir sayyida "ra'"), published by dar al-shuruq in Cairo, 2001. Autobiographical in nature, the stories reflect upon a wide range of subjects, at times personal, at others political, but more often straddling a space in between. "A Clean Kill" is the first of these stories to be translated into English.
Married to the Palestinian poet and writer Murid al-Barghouti, Radwa 'Ashur currently lives in Cairo, where she is a professor of English literature at 'Ain Shams University.