By Rabih Alameddine
An astonishingly creative, splendidly exuberant novel that takes us from the shimmering dunes of historical Egypt to the war-torn streets of twenty-first-century Lebanon.
In 2003, Osama al-Kharrat returns to Beirut after decades in the United States to face vigil at his father’s deathbed. town is a shell of the Beirut Osama recollects, yet he and his family and friends take solace within the issues that experience constantly sustained them: gossip, laughter, and, mainly, stories.
Osama’s grandfather was once a hakawati, or storyteller, and his bewitching stories—of his arrival in Lebanon, an orphan of the Turkish wars, and of the way he earned the identify al-Kharrat, the fibster—are interwoven with vintage stories of the center East, stunningly reimagined. listed below are Abraham and Isaac; Ishmael, father of the Arab tribes; the traditional, fabled Fatima; and Baybars, the slave prince who vanquished the Crusaders. the following, too, are modern Lebanese whose tales inform a bigger, heartbreaking story of probably unending war—and of survival.
Like a real hakawati, Rabih Alameddine has given us an Arabian Nights for this century—a humorous, attractive novel that enchants and dazzles from its first actual strains: “Listen. permit me take you on a trip past imagining. allow me let you know a story.”