Reader reviews and comments on An Unnecessary Woman, plus links to write your own review.

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

An Unnecessary Woman

by Rabih Alameddine

An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine X
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2014, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2014, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Naomi Benaron
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

Page 1 of 1
There are currently 2 reader reviews for An Unnecessary Woman
Order Reviews by:

Write your own review!

hjeffris

Love this book!
Gorgeous female protagonist, tons of literary and historical references. Uplifting despite "downer" material of senseless war and misogyny of time and place.
Power Reviewer
Cloggie Downunder

This beautiful novel has a wonderfully uplifting ending
An Unnecessary Woman is the fourth novel by Jordanian-born Lebanese author, Rabih Alameddine. Aaliya Sobhi is an elderly divorced woman living alone in an apartment in Beirut. For fifty years, she has translated novels into Arabic, usually starting a new book on the first of January, and packing the finished work away, sealed in a crate, never to be opened again. She is about to select her next book from her lifetime’s collection, when certain events threaten to change her whole way of living. Throughout her narration of current events, Aaliya regularly digresses to describe her past, her childhood, her marriage, her family, her neighbours (“The three witches have been having syrupy coffee together every morning for almost thirty years.”) and her one good friend, Hannah, (“We were two solitudes benefiting from a grace that was continuously reinvigorated in each other’s presence, two solitudes who nourished each other”) against the background of war-torn Beirut, and all her observations are illustrated with quotes from her favourite books. Aaliya’s voice, often self-deprecating, occasionally scathingly critical and full of underlying humour, is strong and clear. This novel is filled with gorgeous prose, much of it marvellously descriptive: “Disappointment hid in the tiny furrows of his forehead, fury in the corners of his mouth.” and “In my morning veins, blood has slowed to the speed of molasses.” Sentiments like “No nostalgia is felt as keenly as nostalgia for things that never existed.” are skilfully illuminated. Alameddine touches on translation and translators (of course), on seeking causality, on the language and style of the Quran and on what influences our memories. This novel is a feast for lovers of literature, even more so for readers who have read the many works mentioned. Alameddine’s love of Beirut and her people is apparent: “Beirut and its denizens are famously and infamously unpredictable. Every day is an adventure. This unsteadiness makes us feel a shudder of excitement, of danger, as well as a deadweight of frustration. The spine tingles momentarily and the heart sinks.” and “A slight breath of air makes the stagnant motes waver; a handful of sunlight kindles them golden and luminous. Apollo, ever the alchemist, still sails his chariot in the skies of Beirut, wielding a philosopher’s stone. Into gold I transmute the air.” Also: “No trace of the psychological scars those battles caused can be found on any Beiruti, however. We suppress trauma so very well. We postpone the unbreathable darkness that weighs us down.” This beautiful novel has a wonderfully uplifting ending.
  • Page
  • 1

Beyond the Book:
  Lebanon's Civil War

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Fake Like Me
    Fake Like Me
    by Barbara Bourland
    After years of trying to make it as a painter in New York City, the unnamed narrator of Fake Like Me...
  • Book Jacket: Hungry
    Hungry
    by Jeff Gordinier
    Noma, René Redzepi's restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, has widely been considered among the ...
  • Book Jacket: With the Fire on High
    With the Fire on High
    by Elizabeth Acevedo
    From Like Water for Chocolate to Ratatouille, writers have recognized the power ...
  • Book Jacket: Lanny
    Lanny
    by Max Porter
    At once beautifully poignant and hauntingly grotesque, Max Porter's Lanny is like an unexpected ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beirut Hellfire Society
    by Rawi Hage

    A searing and visionary novel set in 1970s Beirut that asks what it means to live through war.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense…"
Entertainment Weekly

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win In the Full Light of the Sun

New from Clare Clark!

"Evocative prose and excellent pacing make this fine historical a must-read for art history buffs."
- Publishers Weekly

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A A A Day K T D A

and be entered to win..

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 the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.