Understand this. We never believed that a giant’s heart could be punctured by fumbling, undeserving fingers. I will not say that the how does not matter now. The hows of death matter—especially of women giants.

I hold close this soundless memory from the summer of 1993, like a soft-glowing crystal ball surrounded by delicate cotton-fog—

  • walking up the steps of the humanities building at the University of Jordan to get to the English Department

  • making a left

  • and all the way at the end of the hallway

  • an office to the left.

It is Rula Quawas’s office. There she is on the right, at her desk, her figure surrounded by framed quotes on the wall behind her, all by women she admires, including the usual suspects—Simone de Beauvoir and Virginia Woolf.

In a department full of men, many...

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