"You could say I was thinking of other things when I shampooed my hair blue, and two glasses of red wine didn't help my concentration," says Aaliyah Sohbi. So begins Rabih Alameddine's novel An Unnecessary Woman: a love affair, an impassioned tribute to music and art, to Aaliyah's beloved city of Beirut, where the story is set, and, above all, to her one great passion in life, books. The story, written as a first person address, is set in present-day Beirut, spanning the space between Christmas and New Year's Day. Inside this timeframe, we follow Aaliyah as she reminiscences about her life, the life of her city, and the troubled history of Lebanon's fifteen-year civil war (see Beyond the Book) and ensuing conflicts with "its sister pigmy state," Israel.
Aaliyah, seventy-two, lives in a tiny, run-down apartment filled with books, a few sparse furnishings, and a collection of "various ...
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