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
One of the Middle East's most celebrated voices, Rabih Alameddine follows his international bestseller, The Hakawati, with an enchanting story of a book-loving, obsessive, seventy-two-year-old "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 favorite book into Arabic, then stows it away. The thirty-seven books that Aaliya has translated over her lifetime have never been read--by anyone.
In this breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman's late-life crisis, listeners follow Aaliya's digressive mind as it ricochets across visions of past and present Beirut. Colorful 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 aging 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 nuanced rendering of one woman's life in the Middle East.