An Unnecessary Woman

An Unnecessary Woman

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You could say I was thinking of other things when I shampooed my hair blue, and two glasses of red wine didn't help my concentration. Let me explain. At the end of the year, before I begin a new project, I read the translation I've completed. I do final corrections (minor), set the pages in order, and place them in the box. This is part of the ritual, which includes imbibing two glasses of red wine. 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...
ISBN: 9781922148292
Branch Call Number: REM
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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Aug 31, 2018

do not waste your time. it is SO meta and arch, that the author even has the heroine say, if this was fiction, . . . It Bloody ~`is A WORK OF FICTION. Tedious. The heroine translates other people's books into her language and then puts them away for no one to read. ARRRRRGh! Don't read this.

Oct 10, 2017

Interesting use of life passage in the life of women and different cultural expectations. Liked some of the literary juxtapositions and phrases used. Helped form a more concrete understanding of "being" versus "doing" life.

Sep 11, 2017

Almost 3 stars, but a disappointment. It's a rambling set of reminiscences of a reclusive old woman and her devotion to her city (Beirut) and her books. Having isolated herself from almost all the people around her, all that remains of her world are her memories, her grievances and her translations of books that she diligently completes and then hides away with no intent of ever sharing them with the rest of the world -- a world from which she feels herself to be an outsider.
My problem with the book is that to hold my attention in the absence of plot, the writing must be spectacular or the characters must be very engaging (or both). The writing is highly literate and erudite but otherwise unremarkable; and although Aaliya is certainly a strange duck, I found it impossible to care very much about what became of her.

Aug 20, 2016

Really enjoyed the parts of the book describing the central character's life in Beirut. Sort of drifted off during her descriptions of the books she was translating.

Jun 15, 2016

I greatly enjoyed this book - following Aaliya on her physical and literary journeys. I wish I could say that I was familiar with all of the literature and music that was central to her existence but thankfully that was not imperative to understanding her solitary life.

Apr 04, 2016

I felt absolutely nothing for the protagonist and didn't care what was happening or was going to happen to her. Her inner life was marginally interesting in the first half, but not enough to redeem the book overall. Dull as watching paint dry.

Sep 23, 2015

A masterful tribute to literature and its power to shape lives and create a prism through which one experiences reality. Simultaneously, an exploration of solitude and the complexities, difficulties and disappointments of human interaction. And yet, hope and rationality seep up from what could have been an oppressive tale. I loved this book and how it took a seemingly ordinary -- yes, unnecessary -- life and made it poignant and meaningful. Highly recommended.

Sep 07, 2015

A book that enthralls with a fully developed character that reminisces about her 72 years, her country and city (Beirut), and her place in life. Meanwhile, her passion of literature and translations. The authors ramblings, metaphors, references to specific readings, all create an enthralling and introspective read.

Aug 07, 2015

This is an INTELLIGENT book, one to read slowly and contemplate the words. As a teacher, I always talked about using “voice” and the voice of Aaliya, a woman in her seventies is clear, concise and belies the title. She is not an unnecessary woman. Married and divorced by the age of 20, her story is the timeline of the timeline of Beirut’s violent history. Her love of books and her love of Beirut shine through in this story, as many other reviewers have said, as a love letter to literature and Beirut.

LPL_KateG Jul 23, 2015

An intimate look into the life of a 72-year old woman in Beirut. Alameddine's protagonist loves books more than people, and is a charming curmudgeon who drops literary references like its her job. Which, it kind of is. If you like slow, well-written, in-depth character studies, give this one a try!

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quagga Jun 19, 2014

Most of the books published these days consist of a series of whines followed by an epiphany. I call these memoirs and confessional novels happy tragedies.

quagga Jun 19, 2014

To write is to know that you are not home. I stopped loving Odysseus as soon as he landed back in Ithaca.

quagga Jun 19, 2014

To paraphrase the everparaphraseable Freud, who said something to the effect that when you speak about the past you lie with every breath you take, I will say this:
When you write about the past, you lie with each letter, with every grapheme, including the goddamn comma.
Memory, memoir, autobiography -- lies, lies, all lies.

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