An Unnecessary Woman is the first book I’ve read from the Lebanese author Rabih Alameddine. Born to a Lebanese family in Jordan, Alameddine first goes to England after growing up in Kuwait and Lebanon and then settles in America. After receiving training that has nothing to do with writing, he first paints and then starts writing books.
An Unnecessary Woman is an exciting novel that has been nominated for many awards and has won some. This book tells the story of Aaliya Saleh, who lives alone in Beirut. Aaliya is a beautiful character that I immediately liked. After all, we have a woman who has read books and has filled her house with books since she learned to read. However, Aaliya’s story is not only her story, but of all Beirut and a little bit of war.
Doing translations that no one read throughout her life, Aaliya will be an unforgettable character with her scary family and colourful neighbours. I am sure that you will want to examine the literary names put forward throughout the book, one by one. And you’ll want to underline almost every sentence in the book. It is that powerful. Enjoy!
An Unnecessary Woman
Aaliya Saleh lives alone in her Beirut apartment, with her 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 so art are invade 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 so threatens to shatter the little life she has left.
A love letter to literature and so 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.
Rabih Alameddine is the author of the novels Koolaids, and I, the Divine, The Hakawati, An Unnecessary Woman. The story collection, The Perv, and so most recently, The Angel of History. He divides his time between San Francisco and so Beirut.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: