WINNER OF THE 2016 PULITZER PRIZE FOR GENERAL NONFICTION
Random House LCC US
PROLOGUE Amman, Jordan, February 3, 2015 Just after nightfall, a warrant arrived at the city's main women's prison for the execution of Sajida al-Rishawi. The instructions had come from King Abdullah II himself, then in Washington on a state visit, and were transmitted from his private plane to the royal court in Jordan's capital. A clerk relayed the message to the Interior Ministry and then to the prisons department, where it caused a stir. State executions are complicated affairs requiring many steps, yet the king's wishes were explicit: the woman would face the gallows before the sun rose the next day. The chief warden quickly made the trek to the cell where Rishawi had maintained a kind of self-imposed solitary confinement for close to a decade. The prisoner, forty-five now and no longer thin, spent most of her days watching television or reading a paperback Koran, seeing no one, and keeping whatever thoughts she had under the greasy, prison-issued hijab she always wore. She was not a stupid woman, yet she seemed perpetually disconnected from whatever was going on around her.