Winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, author-on-the-rise Alameddine (The Hakawati) celebrates the power and the glory of literature while showing us one woman's vibrant interior life. Aaliya Sohbi lives alone in Beirut, yearly translating a new book she loves into Arabic even as her thoughts range over her own life and the chaotic life of her city, past and present.
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