Do you know the genre of books in which a troubled/sad/lonely person’s life improves dramatically, as you read, mainly because he/she began reading books?
This isn’t that kind of book.
The narrator of this book has read voraciously for most of her 72 years. These books, their characters, and authors (not to mention some composers) have become the lenses through which she views life, struggles to make sense of life, or perhaps escapes from it.
This comes with a price.
And Aaliya, the narrator knows it well. Immersing herself in literature from around the world does not make her any less “an unnecessary woman” – a point she examines, perhaps “discusses” with her literary world.
Aaliya not only reads books but is a “closet translator” (completed translations are boxed away) – there are fascinating commentaries on translations and the process of translating.
But that’s not all there is in this book.
A life unfolds.
In a city.
Books and the City – that could be a subtitle.
Aaliya has spent all of her life in Beirut. Since she was born in the late 30s, she has lived through a great many very turbulent times. She watches the changes in her city, noticing, commenting, and often criticizing.
In fact, every element of life in the city, along with her colorful neighbors her relatives, and every character in Aaliya’s life, quite literally, comes under scrutiny using an amazing variety of literary characters.
The ending surprised me, in a good way.
I really enjoyed reading this book!
The unique style of writing drew me in immediately!
I’m not going to give you any more details – the author does it so much better than I, so why spoil the experience for yourself?