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
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