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The Hakawati

The Hakawati

"Listen.

Allow me to be your God...

Let me tell you a story."

However tempting and appropriate a weaving metaphor might be to describe this novel, I've felt since I started recommending it that it was a tired one. A more effective illustration might be to imagine being asked to consider a heap of sparkling jewels in your hands, each one in turn. You see each stone and all its brothers jostling for your attention, illuminating each other, obscuring each other. A Lebanese man returning home from L.A. to visit his dying father, a beautiful slave with her jinni lover, an epic narrative of an ancient king and his companions...

This is truly a work of shocking beauty. I haven't been so bewitched by a novel in years.

Frances H.

See all my recommendations »

Author Rabih Alameddine
Publisher Anchor
Publication Date 2009-06-02
Section Fiction / All Staff Suggestions / Frances H.
Type New
Format Paperback
ISBN 9780307386274

In 2003, Osama al-Kharrat returns to Beirut after many years in America to stand vigil at his father's deathbed. As the family gathers, stories begin to unfold: Osama's grandfather was a hakawati, or storyteller, and his bewitching tales are interwoven with classic stories of the Middle East. Here are Abraham and Isaac; Ishmael, father of the Arab tribes; the beautiful Fatima; Baybars, the slave prince who vanquished the Crusaders; and a host of mischievous imps. Through Osama, we also enter the world of the contemporary Lebanese men and women whose stories tell a larger, heartbreaking tale of seemingly endless war, conflicted identity, and survival. With The Hakawati, Rabih Alameddine has given us an Arabian Nights for this century.

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