Palestine conservation west bank life
Photographed by: Usama Tarazi

Conservation Architect & Writer

“One day I may forgive the Israelis for putting us under curfew for 42 days. But I will never forgive them for obliging us to have my mother-in-law for what seemed, then, more like 42 years.” Sharon and my Mother-in-Law (Granta Books 2005)

For the majority of her life, Suad was an accomplished architect who specialized in cultural heritage, conservation of historic buildings and revitalization of historic centres.

And then in 2003 Suad found herself a writer “by sheer accident” as she puts it. Her book Sharon and My Mother-in-Law, was an overnight critical and commercial success and has been translated into 20 languages. In 2004 it won one of Italy’s most prestigious literary awards, the Viareggio Prize, and in 2005 it was short-listed for Ulysses Travel Literature, 2005.

Born to a Palestinian family in Damascus, Amiry grew up between Amman, Damascus, Beirut and Cairo. She studied architecture at the American University of Beirut (AUB) got her Masters in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and her Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Suad taught Architecture at Jordan University from 1978 to 1981. In 1981 she made the decision to go back to Palestine where she taught at the Department of Architecture at Birzeit University in Palestine (1981-1996).

In 1991 Suad founded and directed RIWAQ, a non-profit NGO promoting the rehabilitation of historic centres. Over the years Riwaq has won many international prizes: the Aga Khan Award for architecture 2013, the Curry Stone Prize 2012, the Prince Clause Award 2010, the Palestine Award for Excellence and Creativity 2009 (second place), the Qattan Distinction Awards 2007, the Good Governance Certificate 2007, the Habitat Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment 2006.

Suad Amiry has also taken part in the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East peace talks that took place in the State Department from 1991 to 1993 in Washington DC.

Since her first book was published Suad has written Menopausal Palestine (2010) and Nothing to lose but your life (2010). Her most recent book, Golda Slept Here (2013), won the 2014 Nonino Prize.

Suad’s Architectural Books
Trees, Shrubs and Ground Covers in Jordan and Neighboring Countries
Palestinian Village Home
Traditional Floor Tiles in Palestine
Mantateer; Farm Houses in Palestine
Throne Village Architecture

Forthcoming Books
Damask: A Double-faced Fabric
Riwaq’s 50 Village Rehabilitation Projects (2005-2015) (edited by Suad Amiry and Khaldun Bishara)

BASED IN: Between Ramallah and New York City

LANGUAGES: Arabic and English

Emails from the Edge, The Guardian