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News From Nowhere Radical & Community Bookshop

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An Unnecessary Woman

by Rabih Alameddine - £8.99  Little, Brown Book Group (Corsair) (2015)
paperback    ISBN 13: 9781472119209 | ISBN 10: 1472119207

Rabih Alameddine follows his international bestseller The Hakawati with an enchanting story of the life of a book-loving, obsessive, seventy-two-year-old, blue-haired 'unnecessary woman', living in Beirut. This is a novel to savour.
 
Aaliya Saleh lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by 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 art are invaded 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 threatens to shatter the little life she has left.
 
A love letter to literature and 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.

(Price & availability last checked: October 2015)

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