Unnecessary Woman (Alameddine)

Book Reviews
[I]rresistible… [the author] offers winningly unrestricted access to the thoughts of his affectionate, urbane, vulnerable and fractiously opinionated heroine. Aaliya says that when she reads, she tries to 'let the wall crumble just a bit, the barricade that separates me from the book.' Mr. Alameddine's portrayal of a life devoted to the intellect is so candid and human that, for a time, readers can forget that any such barrier exists.
Wall Street Journal


Alameddine…has conjured a beguiling narrator in his engaging novel, a woman who is, like her city, hard to read, hard to take, hard to know and, ultimately, passionately complex.
San Francisco Chronicle


You can't help but love this character.
Arun Rath - NPR, All Things Considered


A restlessly intelligent novel built around an unforgettable character…a novel full of elegant, poetic sentences.
Minneapolis Star Tribune


I can’t remember the last time I was so gripped simply by a novel’s voice. Alameddine makes it clear that a sheltered life is not necessarily a shuttered one. Aaliya is thoughtful, she’s complex, she’s humorous and critical.
Rosecrans Baldwin- NPR.com


(Starred review.) 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


[T]he internal struggles of a solitary, elderly woman with a passion for books...Aaliya's life may seem like a burden or even "unnecessary" to others since she is divorced and childless, but her humor and passion for literature bring tremendous richness to her day-to-day life—and to the reader's... Though set in the Middle East, this book is refreshingly free of today's geopolitical hot-button issues. A delightful story for true bibliophiles, full of humanity and compassion
Library Journal


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. — Michele Leber
Booklist


(Starred review.) Though, until its climax, there's little action in the course of the day in which the novel is set, Aaliya is an engagingly headstrong protagonist, and the book is rich with her memories and observations..... [S]she never feels embittered, and 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

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