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The Night Counter

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  408 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
After 85 long years, Fatimah Abdullah is dying, and she knows when her time will come. In fact, it should come just nine days from tonight, the 992nd nightly visit of Scheherazade, the beautiful and immortal storyteller from the epic The Arabian Nights.

Just as Scheherazade spun magical stories for 1,001 nights to save her own life, Fatima has spent each night telling Scheh
Kindle Edition, 386 pages
Published (first published 2009)
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A modern and innovative retelling of The Arabian Nights centered on Fatimah Abdullah, an old matriarch who tells her life story to Scheherazade in an attempt to alleviate the latter's boredom. The novel begins on Fatimah's 992nd night while she also starts to plan her own funeral, because she believes that by tale 1001, she will complete her purpose and pass away. Alia Yunis moves us back and forth between Fatima's present-day situations as well as the scenarios that encompass her sprawling fami ...more
Dec 25, 2009 Jess rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I loved this book. But what made it different from most books, for me at least, is the way in which I read it. It was not a book that consumed me, that I felt I needed to devour. I did that with my other favorites, like Harry Potter (die-hard fan here) and East of Eden. Instead I digested it over the course of a few nights, kind of like the nights you read about in the book.

The subtle, wry humor in this book made it an enjoyable, entertaining, but also thought-provoking novel. I think Yunis did
Jun 10, 2014 Buchdoktor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: immigrants
Darf man über andere Kulturen und Religionen lästern? Wenn es die eigene Kultur ist, wie bei Alia Yunis, sicherlich. Auch wenn mir das Lachen einige Male im Hals stecken bleiben wollte, habe ich mich über Fatima, die fast hundertjährige Patriarchin eines ausufernden libanesischen Familien-Clans köstlich amüsiert. Fatima mit ihrem unfreiwilligen Sprachwitz (der auch in der Übersetzung ins Deutsche noch funktioniert), ist einfach komisch – solange man selbst nicht mit ihr in einem Haushalt leben m ...more
Sep 17, 2009 Clare rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The blend of realism and magic reminded a bit of Alice Hoffman but with a unique middle eastern point of view. I loved the characters! Fatima is an older woman. She has had a large family of sons and daughters, and she wants each of them to find happiness. When she is visited by the legendary Scheherazade who is no stranger to story-telling, Fatima tells her the story of her family from her two husbands to her many children.

I am so impressed with this author who kept me spellbound for 365 pages
Mary Walters
Mar 26, 2012 Mary Walters rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not only was I impressed with the warmth and affection packed into this interesting story about how a family with its roots in Lebanon grows and flourishes in the U.S., I was also intrigued by its structure.

The Night Counter is built on the premise that Scheherazade wanders the earth seeking human stories to relieve the boredom of her immortality. The subject of her current focus is one Fatima Abdullah, 85, of Los Angeles, formerly of Detroit and Deir Zeitoon. Fatima is telling Scheherazade her
Jackie Doyle
Jun 05, 2009 Jackie Doyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was fortunate to read the un-proofed galley of the Night Counter, and am so excited I need to review it.

This book is so much fun to read and entertaining on so many levels, the Night Counter is a wonderful blend of fantasy and family that is worthy of Scheherazade herself. In a twist on the classic story, Scheherazade visits Fatima nightly, to hear her stories. Fatima realizes that her last night of storytelling is quickly on the horizon and she has lots to do and decide before her story come
Jan 05, 2011 Rima rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best word I can come up with to describe this book is "charming." The premise is really interesting; it's use of fantasy (the matriarch of an Arab-American family is being visited nightly by Scheherazade) demystifies Arab-American identity, oddly enough. The characters are generally accessible, some admirable, some flawed. Indeed, one of my favorite things about this novel is that it doesn't create a heavy-handed account of Arab-Americans that perpetuates the problematic stereotype of the fr ...more
Scheherazade could learn a thing or two about storytelling from Alia Yunis, who uses the 1001 Nights conceit to tell the tale of Fatima Abdullah, an 85-year-old matriarch who trades beauty tips with Scheherazade as she counts down the nights she thinks she has left to live. Both Fatima and Scheherazade display a lot of L.A. lip, which is not surprising given that Yunis is a filmmaker from L.A. Fatima, a purple-haired Detroit Tigers fan, is a character hard to beat, but she gets competition from ...more
This was an enchanting novel, and I am astounded that it is a debut effort. It presented a kaleidoscope of experiences, each one ringing true and striking a different emotional color. What was real was the frustration you felt at the characters' shortcomings and the relief you felt at their triumphs. Remarkably, Yunis avoided the saccharine sweet and trite confections of happy endings that I was afraid was coming, but instead gave us something that felt both real (well, maybe a bit stretched for ...more
Bayan Al hijjawi
I was impressed by the blend of magic in this book.
Scheherazade who wanders the earth seeking for human stories to relieve the boredom of her immortality meets Fatima, the old grandma with a large family of sons and daughters, and she wants each of them to find happiness. And who insists on finding the right one to take care of her house in Lebanon.
And after reading this book i came up with some quotes
"Zaka,giving alms is one of the true pillars of Islam. You don't hear Cnn talks about. "

"A go
Melissa McCauley
Sep 19, 2015 Melissa McCauley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charming multi-generational tale about a Lebanese-American family. When we join the story 85 year-old Fatima is 6 days away from the 1,001st day living with her gay grandson Amir in Hollywood after divorcing her husband Ibrahim in Detroit. Every night she tells a story to the spirit Scherezade, who visits far-flung members of Fatima's dysfunctional family to better understand them, while Fatima frets over who will inherit her mother's house in Deir Zeitoon, Lebanon. The tale has just enough co ...more
Marilyn Pronovost
Mar 18, 2017 Marilyn Pronovost rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book that uses the construct of Scheherazade with a twist. In this case it is Fatima, an elderly Lebanese immigrant, who is telling her stories to Scheherazade. Fatima, thinking she will die on the 1001st night, prepares for her funeral. She divorces her husband in Detroit so that he will not have to suffer when she dies and is living with her grandson in LA. Through the nights, short stories hold together the theme of family and their love, hurt, weaknesses, oddities, tragedies and happ ...more
Aside from one subplot that I didn't feel was necessary, the author effectively moves the reader through the stories within the family connecting back to the main story line. There are some great characterizations creating a sense of personality with each character.
"The Night Counter" follows Fatima, an old woman from Lebanon who emigrated to the US as a young girl with her first husband.
Fatima has received a visit from Scheherazade, the mythical storyteller, every night for the last 995 nights. Starting with the 996th night, this book recounts Fatima's stories, and those of her children and grandchildren, while Fatima prepares for her death at the end of the storytelling.

I was extremely intrigued by the premise, and thought it could be fascinating. And i
These days, it seems like everyone from young-adult authors to Salman Rushdie wants to rewrite One Thousand and One Nights. I’ve had my eye on The Night Counter for a while now. Mostly because the cover is beautiful, but also because no teenagers fall in love over the course of the book. (Spare me your star-crossed adolescents.)

This book follows Fatima Abdullah, a Lebanese great-grandmother who is living with her gay (but she won’t accept it so ssshhh) grandson in Los Angeles. Every night for th
Matt Kuhns
File under "fascinating works marred by annoying faults…"

I picked this one up at the library after spending a long time among the new fiction shelves, in one of my moods when nothing really seemed to appeal; had I not been getting tired and ready to just grab something and go home I might not have given this one a chance. The premise, however, just struck me as something which it seemed I almost had to try, for its sheer novelty: an old Arab immigrant in Los Angeles has been telling stories to

I really didn't enjoy this book. It took me over a week to trawl through all the disjointed sagas of each of the characters' disconnected lives and although the end does explain why the family is so disfunctional, it was not enough to reward my perseverance.

The rather tall premise is that the elderly Fatima is visited nightly for 1001 nights by an apparition of Sheherazade that only she can see. Everyone else concludes that she is talking to herself.
Thankfully we do not join her un
Aug 09, 2009 CuriousLibrarian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, best-reads-2010
This is a 4.5 from me.

I really enjoyed this book. It put my in mind of the old, sprawling Yiddish generational saga stories. But this is about an Arab-American family in contemporary times, and it takes place over only a few days. The conceit of Fatima telling Scheherazade the stories of her life for 1001 nights means that we are privy not only to Fatima's early life back in Lebanon and in America, but thanks to Scheherazade deciding to investigate Fatima's 10 children and many grandchildren we
Jan 10, 2010 Dana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
992 nights ago, Fatima Abdullah was visited by Scheherazade for the first time, and every night since then Fatima has told Scheherazade stories of her childhood in Lebanon, counting down the nights until Scheherazade's fateful 1001st and final visit, which will also signal the death of Fatima herself. The matriarch of a large Arab-American family, Fatima tells Scheherazade stories about each her ten children as she tries to decide who is worthy of her house in Lebanon, which she has not visited ...more
Ich halte mich einmal nicht lange mit der Inhaltsangabe auf, da ich denke, dass diese gut genug auf dem Rückentext nachzulesen ist. Es geht kurz gefasst, um das Leben der 82 Jährigen Fatima, das diese in verschiedenen Erzählepisoden zusammen mit der fiktiven Figur Scheherazade abhandelt.
Insgesamt war das Buch für mich eher enttäuschend. Es kamen leider zu viele Charaktere in der erzählten Geschichte vor, sodass diese nicht genug Profiltiefe gewinnen konnten. Auch fehlte Übersichtlichkeit durch d
My copy is hardback but has 364 pages. I had originally gotten the book so I could read as part of a book club but then got the wrong date for it, so was unable to go. But I decided to finish it anyways because I thought it was a good book.

The book is about Fatima, a 83 yr old Lebanese woman living in LA with her gay grandson. She has been communicating with Scheherazade, the famous one from the Arabian Nights stories, for the past 993 nights. Instead of Scheherazade sharing her stories, Fatima
Dec 26, 2013 Cwinter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I NEED to read 1001 Nights! I loved the weaving of this multi-generational Arab immigrant story. The characters are layered with their personal stories and their cultural histories. The personal story is funny & entertaining, but manages to incorporate some of the impact of post 9/11 US craziness about Arabs. Yunis' humor reminds me of Jewish humor, a kind of funny familiar to people who have left behind much and moved on to large unknown territories that become Home Sweet Home to generation ...more
This book ended up on my "to-read" list after I spied its pretty blue cover at the bookstore ... and the content behind its pretty blue cover did not disappoint! I really wish GoodReads gave us the option of awarding half stars, because this book was really more of a 3.5 star read for me.

I fell in love with the Abdullah family, especially matriarch protagonist Fatima. There are a dozen or so characters in this story, and Alia Yunis does a wonderful job of introducing you to each one. The Abdull
Jennifer  Sciolino-Moore
Three and a half, ALMOST 4 stars to this. An enjoyable read and thoroughly funny. A Lebanese woman is visited in the night by Scheherazade who tells her that she has 1001 nights left to live. Each night, Scheherazade visits her and tries to get her to talk about her life and relationships. Fatima (the woman) begins by telling only surface stories of no consequence, but as the time of her death draws near, Scheherazade draws out more and more intimate conversation, and a rich, deep inner life is ...more
Giselle Davidian
A brilliant juxtaposition of funny and sad moments in a novel which depicts both Arabs and Americans as funny, humane, and touching individuals - a page turner that interweaves the magic of Hollywood with magic carpets

I was worried that this would just be another book about the struggles of Muslims and Arabs in America post 9-11, and while that layer is here, it is not the heart and soul of this novel, but rather just fleetingly, one of the many, many issues that the five generations of this od
Mar 18, 2011 Martha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished it last night. Wow! I was amazed by how many characters/perspectives Yunis was able to flesh out and make real...It was so interesting to read about all these different American experiences. It was Corrections-like (it's been a while but it made me think of that novel) in its depth and breadth of character situations as well as light and whimsical with (literally) the magic of Scheherazade. I stopped making notes of the things I especially liked--there were so many. I loved loved Bass ...more
Dec 31, 2013 Vanessa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-reads
Meh. This book was a bit tedious to read. The beginning failed to grab my interest and I really didn't care about the characters, even though there were SO many! The plot bored me as did the flat characters, especially Decimal! Smart girls do not talk or write like that "and stuff!" I also thought Amir was stereotypical and stupid, and Fatima was thoroughly un-likeable. It's unfortunate because the book contains an interesting idea: Scheherazade's ghost follows a woman, listens to her stories, o ...more
Aug 01, 2013 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE NIGHT COUNTER by Alia Yunis is a beautiful, often humorous, sometimes tragic, story of several generations of a Lebanese family in America, The tale alternates among several characters, including the historic/mythical/legendary character of Scheherazade, who just happens to be the friend and confidant of the elderly grandmother of the family, who currently is living in Los Angeles with her gay grandson, although the family originally settled in Detroit decades before. This engrossing book ca ...more
Jul 27, 2009 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good book about an Arab woman living in the U.S. for the last 70 years and preparing for her death. She is visited nightly by Scherazade from "Arabian Nights" lore for 1001 nights. She must tell her a story every night. We meet her on the 992nd night and learn all about her family. Two husbands, 10 children and several grandchildren and great-granchildren. They are all Arab-American Muslims that are getting further and further removed from their heritage. Everything comes full-ci ...more
Aug 19, 2009 Fran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting novel. A sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking look at the post-9/11 lives of people of Middle Eastern descent in the US, as told through the story of the family matriarch, Fatima, who has had nightly visits from Scheherazade for the past 994 nights - and now has to settle her life, because she knows that she will die on the 1,001st night. Some of Fatima's children and grandchildren try very hard to stay true to their heritage while others try equally hard to leave it all behind t ...more
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Born in Chicago, ALIA YUNIS is a PEN Emerging Voices Fellow. She has worked as a journalist and filmmaker in several countries. As the daughter of an environmental engineer and a UN diplomat, she grew up in the Midwest, particularly the Twin Cities, and in Beirut during the civil war, graduating from high school in Athens, Greece. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the Univers ...more
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