Rabih Alameddine: An Unnecessary Woman

โ€œโ€ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ถ๐˜ฅ๐˜บ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฅ๐˜ถ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ถ๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ฆโ€™๐˜ด ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ค โ€” ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ค ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ญ ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ฆ๐˜ดโ€ฆ ๐˜๐˜ต ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ง๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜บ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฎ๐˜บ ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด; ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜บโ€ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ง ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฌ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ฎ๐˜บ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฏ โ€” ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜บ, ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฑ๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜บโ€ฆ ๐˜ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ค๐˜ฌ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ข ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ถ๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ.โ€

Our โ€œUnnecessary Womanโ€ is a Beiruti who spends a life reading and translating the works of non-Arabic literary giants into Arabic. What I find remarkable here is that her whole life and character is unfurled through the literary criticism of other works.

By the time a reader is done reading this book, they will have an infinite reading list.

No dizzying magic carpet rides from Rabih Alameddine this time, no shocking form-defying stunts of the novel, just an engaging and steady stream of thoughts and memories about Beirut and its place in the world, and mainly a life lived in literature.

This is a contemplation on such a life, on writers, on readers, on literature. But if we listen closely, it does not necessarily glorify this kind of life. Instead, it asks questions: โ€œ๐˜Ž๐˜ช๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ด ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฉ๐˜บ, ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ต๐˜ด ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ท๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ง๐˜ญ๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฎ๐˜บ ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ง๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ฃ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ท๐˜ฆ ๐˜ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฉ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ง๐˜ฆ?โ€

โ€œ๐˜ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฎ๐˜บ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ง ๐˜ง๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฃ๐˜บ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ซ๐˜ฆ๐˜ซ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ด ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ โ€˜๐˜‰๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฌ๐˜ด ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ณ ๐˜ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ,โ€™ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ, ๐˜ธ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ, โ€˜๐˜“๐˜ช๐˜ง๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ด ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ,โ€™ ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ข ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฌ ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ข๐˜ท๐˜ฐ๐˜ช๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ง๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ญ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜น๐˜ฑ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ.โ€

Our heroine is a flawed human being especially when it comes to human relations, and to read Alameddine is to learn to be patient with some details that make one uncomfortable โ€” but does he teach you so many things! And to learnโ€ฆ isnโ€™t that exactly why we read? Even when one of the things being taught indirectly is that tricky balance between literature and life.

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