Book Feature: An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
Aaliya is a divorced, childless, and reclusively cranky translator in Beirut nurturing doubts about her latest project: a 900-page avant-garde, linguistically serpentine historiography by a late Chilean existentialist. Honestly, at seventy-two, should she be taking on such a project? Not that Aailiya fears dying. Women in her family live long; her mother is still going crazy. But on this lonely day, hour-by-hour, Aaliya’s musings on literature, philosophy, her career, and her aging body, are suddenly invaded by memories of her volatile past. As she tries in vain to ward off these emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left.
Rabih’s writing is the type that lingers with you for a while. Beirut, Aaliyah, her neighbors, the books in the bath, the walk to the library – these people and events would wade in and out of my thoughts with the littlest of triggers. I welcome them like old friends.
Favorite Book Quotes:
Most of us believe we are who we are because of the decisions we’ve made, because of events that shaped us, because of the choices of those around us. We rarely consider that we’re also formed by the decisions we didn’t make, by events that could have happened but didn’t or by our lack of choices, for that matter.
I thought I’d be reading a new book today, but it doesn’t feel right, or I don’t feel like it. Some days are not new-book days.
I know. You think you love art because you have a sensitive soul. Isn’t a sensitive soul simply a means of transforming a deficiency into proud disdain? You think art has meaning. You think you’re not like me.
I am a functioning human being. Mostly. Just so you don’t make too much fun of me, the mostly above refers to functioning, not to human being.
At the heart of most antagonisms are irreconcilable similarities. Hundred-year wars were fought over whether Jesus was human in divine form or divine in human form. Belief is murderous.
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