An Unnecessary Woman

An Unnecessary Woman

eBook - 2014
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Aaliya lives alone with her books - books she has collected over a lifetime, books she translates into Arabic with no likelihood that they will ever be read. With her accidentally blue-dyed hair, her cantankerous dealings with her neighbours and her difficult relationship with her family, Aaliya is a character you will never forget. An Unnecessary Woman is a sublime novel, a love letter to literature and its power to define who we are. Rabih Alameddine is the author of the novels Koolaids, I, the Divine and The Hakawati, the story collection, The Perv, and most recently, An Unnecessary Woman. He divides his time between San Francisco and Beirut. 'An Unnecessary Woman dramatises a wonderful mind at play...filled with intelligence, sharpness and strange memories and regrets...And over all this fiercely original act of creation is the sky of Beirut throwing down a light which is both comic and tragic, alert to its own history and to its mythology, guarding over human frailty and the idea of the written word with love and wit and understanding and a rare sort of wisdom.' Colm Toibin 'Alameddine's storytelling is rich with a bookish humor that's accessible without being condescending...A gemlike and surprisingly lively study of an interior life.' Kirkus Reviews 'Studded with quotations and succinct observations, this remarkable novel by Alameddine is a paean to fiction, poetry, and female friendship. Dip into it, make a reading list from it, or simply bask in its sharp, smart prose.' Booklist 'Alameddine's most glorious passages are those that simply relate Aalyia's thoughts, which read like tiny, wonderful essays. A central concern of the book is the nature of the desire of artistic creators for their work to matter, which the author treats with philosophical suspicion. In the end, Aalyia's epiphany is joyful and freeing.' Publishers Weekly 'For readers familiar with the intricacies of Lebanese culture much in this novel will take on particular significance. For the rest of us, there is Alameddine's finely wrought writing to savour. The last pages, where Aaliya's translations fall victim to a very mundane mishap, are characteristically witty and moving.' SMH/Age/Canberra Times 'Alameddine achieves a remarkable thing: a book that appears to be unstructured and full of side paths, and yet is put together in such a way that when you reach the end, with its "epiphany" coming out of what might have been a disaster, you feel satisfied with his approach to storytelling and the shape of the book. Take it as it comes, and enjoy Alameddine's insights into Beirut and its people, and the endearing company of one of the most original characters to turn up in recent literature.' Otago Daily Times
Publisher: 2014.
ISBN: 9781922148292
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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Aug 31, 2018

do not waste your time. it is SO meta and arch, that the author even has the heroine say, if this was fiction, . . . It Bloody ~`is A WORK OF FICTION. Tedious. The heroine translates other people's books into her language and then puts them away for no one to read. ARRRRRGh! Don't read this.

Oct 10, 2017

Interesting use of life passage in the life of women and different cultural expectations. Liked some of the literary juxtapositions and phrases used. Helped form a more concrete understanding of "being" versus "doing" life.

Sep 11, 2017

Almost 3 stars, but a disappointment. It's a rambling set of reminiscences of a reclusive old woman and her devotion to her city (Beirut) and her books. Having isolated herself from almost all the people around her, all that remains of her world are her memories, her grievances and her translations of books that she diligently completes and then hides away with no intent of ever sharing them with the rest of the world -- a world from which she feels herself to be an outsider.
My problem with the book is that to hold my attention in the absence of plot, the writing must be spectacular or the characters must be very engaging (or both). The writing is highly literate and erudite but otherwise unremarkable; and although Aaliya is certainly a strange duck, I found it impossible to care very much about what became of her.

Aug 20, 2016

Really enjoyed the parts of the book describing the central character's life in Beirut. Sort of drifted off during her descriptions of the books she was translating.

Jun 15, 2016

I greatly enjoyed this book - following Aaliya on her physical and literary journeys. I wish I could say that I was familiar with all of the literature and music that was central to her existence but thankfully that was not imperative to understanding her solitary life.

Apr 04, 2016

I felt absolutely nothing for the protagonist and didn't care what was happening or was going to happen to her. Her inner life was marginally interesting in the first half, but not enough to redeem the book overall. Dull as watching paint dry.

Sep 23, 2015

A masterful tribute to literature and its power to shape lives and create a prism through which one experiences reality. Simultaneously, an exploration of solitude and the complexities, difficulties and disappointments of human interaction. And yet, hope and rationality seep up from what could have been an oppressive tale. I loved this book and how it took a seemingly ordinary -- yes, unnecessary -- life and made it poignant and meaningful. Highly recommended.

Sep 07, 2015

A book that enthralls with a fully developed character that reminisces about her 72 years, her country and city (Beirut), and her place in life. Meanwhile, her passion of literature and translations. The authors ramblings, metaphors, references to specific readings, all create an enthralling and introspective read.

Aug 07, 2015

This is an INTELLIGENT book, one to read slowly and contemplate the words. As a teacher, I always talked about using “voice” and the voice of Aaliya, a woman in her seventies is clear, concise and belies the title. She is not an unnecessary woman. Married and divorced by the age of 20, her story is the timeline of the timeline of Beirut’s violent history. Her love of books and her love of Beirut shine through in this story, as many other reviewers have said, as a love letter to literature and Beirut.

LPL_KateG Jul 23, 2015

An intimate look into the life of a 72-year old woman in Beirut. Alameddine's protagonist loves books more than people, and is a charming curmudgeon who drops literary references like its her job. Which, it kind of is. If you like slow, well-written, in-depth character studies, give this one a try!

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Jun 19, 2014

Most of the books published these days consist of a series of whines followed by an epiphany. I call these memoirs and confessional novels happy tragedies.

Jun 19, 2014

To write is to know that you are not home. I stopped loving Odysseus as soon as he landed back in Ithaca.

Jun 19, 2014

To paraphrase the everparaphraseable Freud, who said something to the effect that when you speak about the past you lie with every breath you take, I will say this:
When you write about the past, you lie with each letter, with every grapheme, including the goddamn comma.
Memory, memoir, autobiography -- lies, lies, all lies.

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