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Lifted by the Great Nothing

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  364 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Lauded by Philipp Meyer, Kevin Powers, and Jim Crace, the debut novel from Michener fellow Karim Dimechkie—about a Lebanese-American coming of age under a loving roof and a devastating lie.

Max doesn’t remember his mother, who was murdered by burglars before they emigrated from Beirut to New Jersey. He lives with his father, Rasheed, who is enamored of his concept of Americ
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Bloomsbury USA
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Elyse  Walters
Rasheed moves to America from Lebanon with his son Max.
I could understand that their accents brought much attention to their foreignness.
I also understand some stumbling over consonants ---
But, what was the purpose of also adding a character with a speech impediment?

I can't express enough how annoying it was to read an 'entire' novel filled with broken up words. It drove me crazy! I began to wonder if I had a defect on my Kindle. I don't think so. It was part of the style of the storytelling. M
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Imagine living your whole life in a lie...
Imagine that only after surviving 18 years in this world, you find out that your whole world is nothing but a lie...
And your whole world comes crumbling down.

Lifted by the Great Nothing is a story of a boy living in a lie. Living in a superbly small world in which his dad occupies the center... and everything. It is a story of getting over the hurts of the past and moving on... no matter how hard it is. It tells the story of a boy trying to find himself
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I knew I wanted to read this book after reading Dimechkie's piece, A (Manic Depressive) Man's Best Friend, in the NYTimes. I loved his original voice and was excited to hear he had a book debuting soon.

I made multiple trips to the bookstore from early March to mid-April, hoping to find it, and then finally acknowledged that the the book would released and in stores on May 19th.

Dimechkie's story moved me a great deal--in fact, in the end he made me cry. A
Lolly K Dandeneau
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Before I share my review, if anyone else reading the ARC via netgalley noticed words broken up, it is just a download issue and you can read it in pdf format until it's fixed. It's not the novel :)

Nothing is what it seems in Max's life. Rasheed has fled Lebanon after the tragic loss of his wife, Max's mother. Trying to assimilate, he is so desperate to shed his foreign skin that he keeps the past under lock and key from his son. Rasheed wants to embrace all things American, and see that his son
Mar 23, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is kind of hard to read. Dimechkie seems to be one of those writers who takes grim delight in describing icky things in unflinching detail: illness, sex, the adolescent male physique, even the mechanics of eating. Topics that would benefit from lower lighting and less scrutiny are instead thrust under a bald 100-watt bulb.

Fortunately, the plot exerted a strong enough pull to keep me from recoiling too much from the unsavory details. Max and his father Rasheed live in New Jersey. Before
"There's hardly a fiction in the world that's more comforting than having a clear explanation for pain. The truth is not always what's most important."

Rasheed leaves Lebanon with his infant son Max, settling into a multi-cultural American neighborhood and life. He is determined to live all aspects of Lebanon behind. Max grows up believing his mother and entire extended family were killed by robbers in Beirut -- he and his father narrowly escaping the ambush.

The book's primary focus is Max's com
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a gorgeous debut from a promising young writer. Dimechkie toes the line between comedy and tragedy deftly, with wit and humorous prose. Lifted by the Great Nothing reminded me a lot of the humor in Miranda July's most recent novel, THE FIRST BAD MAN. And it is as grand and ambitious in scope as 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner, Donna Tartt's THE GOLDFINCH. I loved the characters in this brilliant, heartwarming book, and could not recommend it highly enough. ...more
Polly Krize
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A deft portrayal of a boy struggling into the man he will be. With no idea who his mother was, Max struggles to fit into the world his father Rasheed has made for them in America. The reasons for many of Rasheed's seemingly selfish decisions become clear as Max discovers the truth. Painful and at times difficult to read, this book will touch you on many emotional levels.
Larry Olson
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Karim Dimechkie is a wonderful storyteller. Lifted by the Great Nothingis a rich and moving tale of Lebanese immigrant assimilation to American culture and a coming of age novel. But it is really so much more than that. Race, interracial love, and the world parents create to teach and protect their children are dominant themes in a broad and enveloping story. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. I highly recommend it.
Shana Nichols
*Received as a Good Reads ARC*
An eclectic and endearing cast of characters shine from the pages of this coming of age tale of a young man with no connections with anyone his own age, and a range of unusual relationships with everyone else. Humorous and poignant, Dimechkie captures Max's confusion and enlightenment as he learns about his family with gentleness and courage.
Maunykah Arcelin
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Loved it! Stay tuned for full review.
Bryce Van Vleet
DNF @ 70%

I went to the library for a book and two more jumped out at me. This was one of them. The title and cover were intriguing and the plot seemed interesting. Judging by the first few pages, I felt sure I'd like this. I was hooked and intrigued. As time wore on, however, my illusions of warmth faded, replaced by a cold, deep discomfort and hatred. I know what I said about not DNFing any more this year, but I also know how unreliable my promises are when it comes to reading.

Perhaps I'm jus
Mousa Abed AL Mahmoud
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I can't recall a time when I cried over a #movie, or had any kind of emotional reaction formed into certain kind of expression because of an emotionally-triggering scene.
Maybe I'm just too conscious about what's #real and what is #drama!
But with this very novel I felt my whole body was reacting in a hundred ways all on one go. While #reading, I was loosening, jumping, pinching, and in chapter 15 almost sobbing! Registering many things altogether.
God, there's so much in it; The #Palestinian deba
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Max's story, a coming-of-age novel especially about his relationship with his father. The father-son relationship is not what it seems. He grew up not knowing his mother. Rasheed, his father, is captivated by the American culture. This is a good first novel. I received a copy of this book from Goodreads Giveaways for a review. ...more
Harold Walters
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Max's — or possibly Hakeem's — coming-of-age story...that involves a trip to Beirut...and an unusual, briefly-blooming flower. ...more
Randi Daeger
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one of "those" books.....important and literary. I will be watching for his next book. ...more
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
I read this book for a class after Dimechkie did a reading of it in my university. The author has an interesting voice and cartoonish style of writing, which was enjoyable.

The story is of a young adolescent boy finding himself and his heritage, something his immigrant father had hidden from him. Dimechkie does a good job of portraying modern American life and especially the lives of immigrants - although he does succumb to cliches or over exaggeration of some aspects of it. I don't think I parti
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is one for the heart-breakingly beautiful list. Max's father, Rasheed Boulos who has shortened his name to the American-sounding Reed moved to the U.S. from Lebanon when Max was a baby. Reed is determined to be as American as he can be; his missteps are often hilarious. His neighbors, the Wangs, and the doctor, Nadine are also immigrants. His friends and drinking buddy, Tim, who is Max's basketball coach, also lives in the neighborhood. The relationships between neighbors and the Bouloses a ...more
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I listened to this on Audible. I have the Kindle version, but I found the broken English difficult to read. Audiobook was much easier for me and I am SO GLAD that I listened to this story.
I truly loved this book. The characters and their personalities were so well written. Rasheed was a complex characters. He was difficult to get along with, depressive, racist, and a liar, but also relatable and easy to sympathize with. I found the same was true of all of the characters. They were flawed, but n
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Dimechkie is a talented young writer. He spun opa coming-of-age tale about Max Hakeem Jabbir Boulos with uncanny humor, teenage emotions, anger, heartbreak and loss. Max lives in New Jersey with his father Rasheed Boulos. They are refugees from Lebanon. Rasheed spins elaborate bedtime stories for Max and stories about Max's mother and how his extended family was killed by a robber. From Max's viewpoint, he accepts these stories as truths because he loves Rasheed, he has no reason to doubt their ...more
"You go on living like you've understood the pattern of your days, like everything makes sense, and that's when you get hacked down and reminded that you don't really control any of this trip."

I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

This book definitely packs a punch. Full of lurid details and situations that make you squirm and all sorts of twists this book was hard to put down. The characters are compelling, especially Max, and I
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
2 star = it was ok by GR rating system.

Interesting story of Max, a Lebanese kid growing up in the US. Pros: The writing was easy to read and follow. The characters were interesting, however I thought the story was a bit unfocused. The story really reminded me of "The World According to Garp"; I thought it was written in the same style. Ultimately, I thought it was only ok because there wasn't anything for me to hang on to, there wasn't a story line per se, the author just kept writing and writin
Katherine Noble
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is captivating from the first page to the closing paragraph. I heard about it on Oprah's must read books, and I'm so glad I did! So many first novels are either too light or get tangled up their own scope. Dimechkie settles in a perfect equilibrium throughout-- weaving beautiful observations, humorous growing pains, and feelings of otherness into such commanding prose. The novel continually morphs quotidian, universal moments of adolescence into powerful scenes that expose the lit coal ...more
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book. Very well written and the characters were so likable. The book starts out really getting to know (or at least you think you know!) Rasheed and Max and their life in America. It then takes you to Beirut and Paris, starting to read more like an adventure and you get really excited for this journey and where it may take you. Thoroughly enjoyed the read! My only complaint is that, throughout the book, the author touches on social issues such as race relations and Palestinia ...more
Jamblouski, T
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An original, emotionally charged and thoroughly engaging read.

Lifted by the Great Nothing is an engaging and funny coming of age story of a first generation adolescent immigrant from Lebanon, protected from the truth about his family by a father's love and a blanket of secrecy and lies.

A gripping story with engaging characters and interesting relationships. It is nuanced, cleverly balanced and meticulously observed. Dimechkie is a well-grounded, totally original author with a good ear and a dist
Connie Lacy
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was one of those books I couldn't wait to get back to. Interesting, sympathetic characters: a motherless boy and his odd father, Rasheed, who never wants to tell him about his Lebanese heritage. Always insisting they're Americans and what happened in Beirut is unimportant for Max to know. But eventually, Max insists on knowing why and how his mother died. All this, while becoming more than just friends with an intellectually (and otherwise) stimulating woman doctor. Very impressive for a de ...more
Jul 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Great title. But although I enjoyed the book - I did not love it. The book contains a lot of different themes, but the main thread, the relationship of a father with his son.

The father is an immigrant to America from Lebanon, and on arriving in America he distances himself from his war torn country and tries to fit completely into the Great American Dream. But our past has a way of eating into our present, and eventually Max discovers the truth about his father's past.

Karen Gulumian
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this book as it was required for me to do so. All and all I was surprised. The author surprised me, in a good way too. The writing here and there needed some adjustment however he tackled the political issues in Lebanon and around the Middle East quite nicely. Lebanon was perceived in an exaggerated way however I can understand how it was all from Max's point of view. It's a nice coming of age story, and the ending was not expected. All and all, recommended. ...more
Jul 29, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a brilliant debut novel that explores a bond between a father and son while also exploring several complex issues such as immigration as experienced by the first generation versus the second, formative experiences and even a mystery. This story is very a poignant one and Karim Dimechkie has to be lauded for writing such a story that's sure to strike a chord with all of its readers and especially immigrant ones. ...more
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Karim Dinechkie's first novel about a young refugee in New York City with his dad, Rasheed. Max and Rasheed are close but Rasheed is vague on what country they come from and their past. Rasheed doesn't teach Max his native language or what it is. Turns out that the family is from Beruit and their language is Arabic. In high school, Max finally tries to visit Lebanon and find his mother whom he has been told is dead. A nice story and a moving one. ...more
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“Rasheed was a fixed entity, an unchanging, finished, permanent person, and the thought of teaching him anything was as unthinkable as training a turtle to sing. Turtles cannot sing and fathers cannot change. Neither fact demands alteration.” 0 likes
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