Mary Walters's Reviews > The Night Counter

The Night Counter by Alia Yunis
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Mar 26, 2012

really liked it
Read from March 26 to April 18, 2012

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 992nd story when the novel opens, and she is also busy planning her own funeral: sure that her time will be up when she completes Tale 1001.

Fatima, a bright and feisty woman even in her mid-eighties, came to the U.S.A. as a young bride with her first husband Marwan. With him and then her second husband Ibrahim (who married her after Marwan died), she gave birth to ten children. She always believed that Ibrahim married her out of kindness rather than love, so at the age of 82 she left him in Detroit and went to live with Amir, her grandson, in LA. Amir is openly gay but Fatima is determined to find him a wife before she dies. Her other major mission (aside from ordering food for the funeral) is to decide to which of her many children and grandchildren she should leave the key to her beloved home in Lebanon. Scheherazade (who can only be seen by Fatima; everyone else thinks Fatima is talking to herself) is assisting in this enterprise by zipping around the world on her magic carpet between Fatima's stories in an attempt to assess the pros and cons of awarding the cherished key to each of Fatima's descendants.

Through Scheherazade's short trips, we learn the stories of the members of Fatima's family. They are now living all over the USA - one grandchild is in the middle east doing peace-corps work. Some remain loyal to the religion and lifestyles of their childhoods as others move deeper into the melting pot. Their lives are in many ways typical of most second- and third-generation families from other cultures now living in North America, and the novel is a reminder of how much alike we all are, rather than how different. For the most part amusing and light-hearted, The Night Counter does also not hesitate to address some of the darker issues that confront Muslims and all humans in America today. It is an auspicious debut, and I look forward to reading future novels by Ms. Yunis.
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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Thanks for the review. It sounds intriguing. I will add it to my to-read list and look for it at my library.


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