Book lovers will adore this moving tale ... Aaliya is a sympathetic character but never a pitiful one, recognisable yet also unique.
The narrator of this exquisitely written novel, Aaliya, is an old woman who lives alone by choice in her war-damaged Beirut apartment. She's sharp and sour and not especially likeable, but what redeems her is her love of music and books, especially the latter. Her life story is punctuated by her musings on art, and by the inescapable intrusions of the brutal real world.
An Unnecessary Woman dramatizes a wonderful mind at play. The mind belongs to the protagonist, and it is filled with intelligence, sharpness and strange memories and regrets. But, as in the work of Calvino and Borges, the mind is also that of the writer, the arch-creator. His tone is ironic and knowing; he is fascinated by the relationship between life and books. He is a great phrase-maker and a brilliant writer of sentences. And over all this fiercely original act of creation is the sky of Beirut throwing down a light which is both comic and tragic, alert to its own history and to its mythology, guarding over human frailty and the idea of the written word with love and wit and understanding and a rare sort of wisdom