Unnecessary Woman, An

Alameddine, Rabih

  17 Reviews

As the New Year rolls around, Aaliya opens the first page of a new book ready to begin her annual project. Living alone in her Beirut apartment she certainly has the time and opportunity to undertake this task, but inclination is her most powerful motivator. She may have survived an arranged marriage and a civil war but her reason d'etre revolves around the world's great literature. And what better way to engage with it than translating it into classical Arabic.

This is a story rich with literary wealth and the internal monologue of a prickly but compelling narrator confiding her unconventional story and who is about to have change forced upon her whether she likes it or not. [Larger font]



AUCK 196
Lovely sentences which most members enjoyed. The story was very slow, with nothing happening for 3/4 of the book. However, all felt the last chapter was the reward for continuing reading.
TAUR 043
Half of our group never finished this book. They found it meandered on with too many references to unknown books, music and opera. A couple of people looked up some titles to gain understanding. The people who persevered enjoyed the language, descriptions, and found the ending satisfying.
CHCH 068
A good discussion helps to process a book we don't necessarily all like.
AUCK 065
One member of the group absolutely loved it. Two of us enjoyed parts of it, and the rest of the group gave up as too hard to read. I thought the language and word pictures were beautiful.
WELL 001
A very successful choice. The majority greatly liked the book. It was engaging, well written and funny. Made us resolve to search out other books by the author.
AUCK 133
Everyone enjoyed this. A real literary treat. Superbly well-written, and gave us a real insight into a woman's place in Beirut.
Our group had differing attitudes to this book. We all agreed that we liked reading about Beirut, and the author gave us a feeling that it was a vibrant and beautiful city with many different races inhabiting it. Some thought Aaliyah's occupation of translating books into Arabic was ridiculous, and wondered how she could support herself as she wasn't earning money. I thought that this gave her a purpose in a world that hadn't suited her.
AUCK 150
This book met with a mixed response. Most found it delusional and difficult to read. However some found it intellectually stimulating with interesting metaphors, but overall it was found to be an arrogant book.
Beautifully written and highly recommended by most of the group - this engendered a lively discussion.
This book took most of us a lot of determination to read, but it has been well worthwhile! We were impressed with all the quotes - I'd be a lot more knowledgeable if I followed these up. The quotes annoyed one member as "showing off". A delightful end to the story.
Mixed reactions. Some found it quirky but interesting; one thought it the most interesting book read for a long time , and another a "platform for the author to project what he knew about literature". An intensive read with great descriptions and a lot to take in. The ending had different meanings for different members.
We felt the book was marred by an excessive use of quotes and references, which some found annoying and intellectually intimidating. Discussion was wide-ranging.
WELL 209
Very mixed views. Some loved the book and the main character. Some didn't like the character and this affected their view of the book. All thought the language was lovely. Some thought the literary/musical references were pretentious - others thought they were clever and part of the story.
STEW 001
A mediocre read. The descriptive writing was, in places, very good but it felt a bit pretentious. It was a bit slow through the middle but it did pick up towards the end. Half the group enjoyed the book - the other half didn't.
This produced a lively discussion. Many felt it warranted a second read, as it referred to so many other worthwhile reads.
CHCH 194
This is the first book that everyone in the group rated very poorly. No redeeming features so a dull read.