Sambac Beneath Unlikely Skies

Heba Hayek


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Hajar Press
29 July 2021
ISBN: 9781914221026
129 pages

From the publisher

Tender yet brutal vignettes on a girlhood in Gaza, Palestine, filled with honey and warmth.

White Review Book of the Year 2021.

Middle East Eye Book of the Year 2021.

New Arab Book of the Year 2021.

Sambac Beneath Unlikely Skies is written for those who had to leave—collected remembrances of a childhood in Gaza by a woman far from Palestine’s sun and sea. Overindulgent, chaotic and sentimental, Heba Hayek’s narrator struggles to navigate life in colder, unfamiliar worlds. She holds tightly to memories of home, hoping they will lead back to her sisters and mothers.

With brilliance and grace, Hayek’s vignettes explore the methods of survival nurtured by Palestinian women in the face of colonial occupation and patriarchy—the power of community care, and of loving what’s not meant to be loved. Her reflections reveal the intimate magnificence and quiet devastation of everyday life: a family drive on the shore, waxing for the first time with aunties, or peeling figs while waiting at a checkpoint.

‘Beautiful stories of growing up in Gaza.’ — The White Review

‘A book I devoured in a single sitting.’ — Middle East Eye

‘A tender, beautiful book.’ — The New Arab