An Unnecessary Woman

An Unnecessary Woman

Book - 2014 | First edition.
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An obsessive introvert in Beirut, eschewed by her family and neighbors for her divorced status and lack of religious reverence, quietly translates favorite books into Arabic while struggling with her aging body, until an unthinkable disaster threatens what little life remains to her.
Publisher: New York : Grove Press, [2014]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2013.
ISBN: 9780802122148
Branch Call Number: ALAME
Characteristics: 291 pages ; 22 cm

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q
QnVz
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.

w
wyenotgo
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.

s
santiano9
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.

m
ms_mustard
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.

a
abcDena
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.

r
rbrooksr16
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.

c
cdmv
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.

b
brangwinn
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!

mavalibrary Jul 18, 2015

Greetings, I will give this book 5 stars ONLY because I cannot give it more under the current arrangement. I postponed reading the last few pages because I did not want to end being in Aaliya's company. I was impressed by her erudition and thirst for knowledge, and, last but not the least, by her memory.

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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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