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Rabih Alameddine

An Unnecessary Woman

A happily misanthropic Middle East divorcee finds refuge in books in a “beautiful and absorbing” novel of late-life crisis (The New York Times).
Aaliya is a divorced, childless, and reclusively cranky translator in Beirut nurturing doubts about her latest project: a 900-page avant-garde, linguistically serpentine historiography by a late Chilean existentialist. Honestly, at seventy-two, should she be taking on such a project? Not that Aailiya fears dying. Women in her family live long; her mother is still going crazy. But on this lonely day, hour-by-hour, Aaliya’s musings on literature, philosophy, her career, and her aging body, are suddenly invaded by memories of her volatile past. As she tries in vain to ward off these emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left.
In this “meditation on, among other things, aging, politics, literature, loneliness, grief and resilience” (The New York Times), Alameddine conjures “a beguiling narrator . . . who is, like her city, hard to read, hard to take, hard to know and, ultimately, passionately complex” (San Francisco Chronicle). A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award, An Unnecessary Woman is “a fun, and often funny . . . grave, powerful . . . [and] extraordinary” Washington Independent Review of Books) ode to literature and its power to define who we are. “Read it once, read it twice, read other books for a decade or so, and then pick it up and read it anew. This one’s a keeper” (The Independent)
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