An astonishingly inventive, wonderfully exuberant novel that takes us from the shimmering dunes of ancient Egypt to the war-torn streets of twenty-first-century Lebanon.
'Stunning' New York Times Book Review
'Here it comes, the book of the year, on its own magic carpet. No book this bewitching has ever felt so important; no book this important has ever been so lovingly enchanted. The Hakawati is both a snapshot of our current crisis, and a story for the ages. What else can we ask the djinn of literature for?' Andrew Sean Greer, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Less
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.
'Sharp, seductive storytelling' O, The Oprah Magazine
Delightful. . . . Alameddine juxtaposes truth and fiction, contemporary lust and bawdy tales of the past, today's grief and sorrow in the ancient world — The Washington Post Book World
Sharp, seductive storytelling — O, The Oprah Magazine
Stunning — New York Times Book Review
Here is absolute beauty. One of the finest novels I've read in years — Junot Díaz
A wonderful book-poignant, profane.... This novel will keep you transfixed — The Boston Globe
Alameddine's intoxicating, ambitious, multi-layered new novel is a marvel of storytelling bravado — The Seattle Times
A riot of stories concerning the rise of the eccentric al-Kharrat family. Osama [al-Kharrat]'s waggish grandfather was a hakawati, or storyteller, and his classic tales of princes, genies, and wise-cracking seductresses are worthy of Scheherazade. Rabih Alameddine has a deft, winsome touch — Entertainment Weekly
Dazzling . . . weaves together spellbinding reimaginings of two of the Arab world's most bewitching tales-that of Fatima and Baybars, the famous slave king, and of Osama al-Kharrat, a Lebanese expat who returns to Beirut to be at his dying father's bedside — Condé Nast Traveler
An epic in the oldest and newest senses, careening from the Koran to the Old Testament, Homer to Scheherazade. It's hard to imagine the person who wouldn't get carried away — Jonathan Safran Foer
The Hakawati is both genius and genie out of the ink bottle, a glorious, gorgeous masterpiece of pure storytelling and fable making . . . If you read stories to be entertained, read The Hakawati. If you enjoy stories of true love, read The Hakawati. If you prefer family sagas, read The Hakawati. If you like adventure tales, read The Hakawati. If you read to stay informed, read The Hakawati. If you read to escape, read The Hakawati. If you read only literary classics, read The Hakawati. If you love fables, watch the news first, then read The Hakawati. Rabih Alameddine is the Hakawati, and in the very near future, everyone will know how to pronounce his name — Amy Tan
"Here it comes, the book of the year, on its own magic carpet. No book this bewitching has ever felt so important; no book this important has ever been so lovingly enchanted. The Hakawati is both a snapshot of our current crisis, and a story for the ages. What else can we ask the djinn of literature for? — Andrew Sean Greer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize