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An Unnecessary Woman (MP3 CD)
Stepping into the mind of an obsessive literary introvert, who has devoted seventy years to building intimate relationships with books rather than with people, is not as claustrophobic of a reading experience as one might imagine. Instead, Aaliya's single-minded passion serves as a lens through which we experience the evolution of a city and her life as a Beiruti. Alameddine's novel is a delicate rendering of a reader's soul-- a rumination on how art and literature function in our lives. For readers who appreciate books about books.— Erin
One of the Middle East's most celebrated voices, Rabih Alameddine follows his international bestseller, The Hakawati, with an enchanting story of a book-loving, obsessive, seventy-two-year-old "unnecessary" woman.
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 favorite book into Arabic, then stows it away. The thirty-seven books that Aaliya has translated over her lifetime have never been read--by anyone.
In this breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman's late-life crisis, listeners follow Aaliya's digressive mind as it ricochets across visions of past and present Beirut. Colorful 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 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 prodigiously gifted Rabih Alameddine has given us a nuanced rendering of one woman's life in the Middle East.