Joe's Reviews > The Hakawati

The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine
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's review
Jun 17, 10

bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, 2010
Read in January, 2010

Stories within stories within stories twist threads of truth together to reveal, as the jacket says, a new Arabian Nights. The book weaves together a present day narrative of family loss, four generations of that family's past, the story of the Egyptian slave king Baybars, and an ancient tale of a maiden falling in love with a demon. The result is a novel of personal loss that appears as an epic adventure; it's never been this entertaining to read about sadness and loss. In between, you get a glimpse of wartime Lebanon and the many cultures that make up that country. You could call this a less-pretentious Rushdie, but that would ignore the fact that he would never quite be able to imagine such fantastic tales, even if his scenes are more vivid. This book takes Arabic story-telling and puts it squarely in the modern voice, a rare feat that must be acclaimed.

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