An Unnecessary Woman
Aaliya Saleh lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless, fatherless, childless, and divorced, Aaliya is her family's 'unnecessary appendage'. Every year, she translates a new favourite book into Arabic, then stows it away.
The thirty-seven books that Aaliya has translated over her lifetime have never been read - by anyone. This breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman follows Aaliya's digressive mind as it ricochets across visions of past and present Beirut. Colourful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese Civil War and Aaliya's own volatile past.
As she tries to overcome her ageing body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left. A love letter to literature and its power to define who we are, the prodigiously gifted Rabih Alameddine has given us a magnificent rendering of one woman's life in the Middle East.
I know, seems like a weird choice for an 'uplfiting' read, but hear us out. Even though it's a somewhat...shall we say...somber premise its gorgeously written and so full of heart.
“When I read a book, I try my best, not always successfully, to let the wall crumble just a bit, the barricade that separates me from the book. I try to be involved.
I am Raskalnikov. I am K. I am Humbert and Lolita.
I am you.
If you read these pages and think I'm the way I am because I lived through a civil war, you can't feel my pain. If you believe you're not like me because one woman, and only one,
Published 01/02/2015 (Corsair) in United Kingdom
Paperback | 304 pages