Excerpt from The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Hakawati

by Rabih Alameddine

The Hakawati
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2008, 528 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2009, 528 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


On the fourth evening, in the middle of the Sinai Desert, before the sun had completely set, the party was attacked just as Fatima had predicted. Twenty Bedouins dispatched the city soldiers. Finding little of value among the belongings, the captors decided to divide the spoils evenly. Ten would have Fatima and ten would get to use Jawad.

Fatima laughed. “Are you men or boys?” She stepped forward, leaving a visibly nervous Jawad behind. “You have a chance to receive pleasure from me and you choose this stripling?”

“Be quiet, woman,” said the leader. “We must divide you evenly. We cannot risk a fight over the booty. Be thankful. You would not be able to deal with more than ten of us.”

Fatima laughed and turned back to Jawad. “These desert rats have not heard of me.” She took off her headdress; her abundant black hair tumbled around her face. “These children of the barren lands have not sung my tales.” She unhooked the chain of gold coins encircling her forehead. “They believe that twenty infants would be too much for me.” She took off her abayeh showing her seductress figure, stood before the Bedouins in her dress of blue silk and gold. “Behold,” she said. “I am Fatima, charmer of men, bewitcher of the heavens. Look how the moon calls his clouds; see how he crawls behind his curtains; watch him hide in shame, for he refuses to reveal himself when I show my face. You think you peons will be too much for me, Fatima?” She raised her hands to the vanishing moon. “Think whether twenty of you would satisfy me, Fatima, tamer of Afreet-Jehanam.” She glared at the men. “Tremble.”

“Afreet-Jehanam?” the leader cried. “You conquered the mighty jinni?”

“Afreet-Jehanam is my lover. He is no more than my plaything. He does my bidding.”

“I want her. I refuse to have the boy. We have to redivide the spoils. This will not do.”

“No,” the leader said. “We cannot have everyone get what they want. That is not the Arab way. It has already been decided.”

“I want the woman as well,” cried another man. “You cannot keep her to yourself and give us this waif of a boy.”An argument ensued. Everyone wanted Fatima, except for one man, Khayal, who kept insisting, “I really want the boy,” to anyone who would listen. But no one listened. The nine men who wanted Fatima instead of the boy grew livid. Rules or no rules, they had been cheated. They had no idea Fatima was so talented. They had been deceived and wanted their appropriate share. The goods, as any idiot could see, had not been divided equally. Battle lines were drawn, swords unsheathed. Quickly, the ten killed the nine.

“I think the boy is winsome,” said Khayal.

Twenty lustful eyes stared at Fatima.

“Now, now, boys,” she said coyly. “Was that really necessary?”

“It is time, Sitt Fatima,” the leader said. “We are ready.”

“Well, I am not. I must choose who goes first. The first lover is very important. He will help me set the stage for what is to come. Should I go with the one who has the biggest penis? I like that, but sometimes he who has the biggest is the worst lover, and that will force me to work harder. This should be amusement not labor. Which of you has the smallest penis? A man with a small member would be more eager to please me, but then, as hard as it is, it is not as satisfying. Choosing the first lover should not be taken lightly. I have much to consider.”

The leader huffed and puffed. “There is nothing to consider. I go first. I am the best lover and the rest can take turns after I am sated.”

“You are not the best lover,” another brigand said. “If you were, your wife would not be leaving her house in the middle of the night.”

Excerpted from The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine Copyright © 2008 by Rabih Alameddine. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: All We Have Left
    All We Have Left
    by Wendy Mills
    September 11, 2001 is a date that few Americans will ever forget. It was on this day that our ...
  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the thought is staggering.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.