An Unnecessary Woman

An Unnecessary Woman Review

One of Beirut’s most celebrated voices, Rabih Alameddine follows his international bestseller, The Hakawati, with a heartrending novel that celebrates the singular life of an obsessive introvert, revealing Beirut’s beauties and horrors along the way.

Aaliya Sohbi lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless, fatherless, divorced, and childless, 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 have never been read—by anyone. After overhearing her neighbors, "the three witches,” discussing her too-white hair, Aaliya accidentally dyes her hair too blue.

In this breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman’s late-life crisis, readers follow Aaliya’s digressive mind as it ricochets across visions of past and present Beirut. Insightful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese Civil War and Aaliya’s 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 gifted Rabih Alameddine has given us a nuanced rendering of a single woman's reclusive life in the Middle East.

Title:An Unnecessary Woman
Edition Language:English

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    An Unnecessary Woman Reviews

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    ”Although I know the characters of a novel as a collection of scenes as well, as accumulated sentences in my head. I feel I know them better than I do my mother. I fill in the blanks with literary p...

  • Sue

    Update to review, October, 2017:First, I agree with my initial review completely. I love the book, again, in the same and new ways. This time I read it more slowly, giving attention to Alameddine's pr...

  • Tony

    Rabih Alameddine is a name-dropper. By page 61 of this really exceptional novel he had dropped Sebald, Bolano, Svevo, Pessoa, Javier Marías, Dickens, Calvino, Balzac, Nabokov, Conrad, Donne, Bataille...

  • Richard Derus

    Rating: 4.25* of fiveThe Publisher Says: One of Beirut’s most celebrated voices, Rabih Alameddine follows his international bestseller, The Hakawati, with a heartrending novel that celebrates the si...

  • Jen

    This was an 'unnecessary' read for me until the last several pages in which I could fully appreciate the extent and expanse of the story, the character. Prior to that, it was depressive and heavily la...

  • Seemita

    Was it necessary to read ‘An Unnecessary Woman’? About a woman in the twilight of her life, a product of rusted times? A woman from a foreign land, and of foreign blood? A woman who offered pursed...

  • Garima

    The usual mood that prevails while reading ‘An Unnecessary Woman’ is something that can be observed during the time of a candid conversation with a fellow book lover who not only share your passio...

  • Vessey

    “There is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship”David Foster Wallace"Perhaps reading and writi...

  • Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters

    Update... $1.99 kindle special. Fabulous book at a great price - in case you missed it! I took one small issue with the book- but already had enough discussions about it for a lifetime. LolBut .... re...

  • Fionnuala

    The words ‘in my element’ flashed through my mind several times as I was reading this book because I was literally in my element, as if the adverb ‘literally’ and the phrase ‘in my element...