Eloquent. If I had to choose one word to describe An Unnecessary Woman, that would be it. And I believe it is fitting and descriptive of the book to say that it is Rabih Alameddine’s remarkable skill with language that makes this novel about the significance of words and ideas so powerful. Aaliya is an older Beiruti woman, a survivor of the war. Her husband divorced her and she never had children. Instead she has made a life by working in a bookstore, living by herself, and translating books into Arabic in her spare time. Can such a life really matter? An Unnecessary Woman is a gorgeous exploration of the question.— Sara, Atlanta
Winner of the California Book Award
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
Finalist for the National Book Award
"Beautiful and absorbing."--New York Times
An Unnecessary Woman is a breathtaking portrait of one reclusive woman's late-life crisis, which garnered a wave of rave reviews and love letters to Alameddine's cranky yet charming septuagenarian protagonist, Aaliya, a character you "can't help but love" (NPR). Aaliya's insightful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese Civil War and her volatile past. As she tries to overcome her aging body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left. Here, the gifted Rabih Alameddine has given us a nuanced rendering of one woman's life in the Middle East and an enduring ode to literature and its power to define who we are.
"A paean to the transformative power of reading, to the intellectual asylum from one's circumstances found in the life of the mind." --LA Review of Books
" The novel] throbs with energy... Aaliya's] inventive way with words gives unfailing pleasure, no matter how dark the events she describes, how painful the emotions she reveals." --Washington Post