Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “I, The Divine: A Novel in First Chapters” as Want to Read:
I, The Divine: A Novel in First Chapters
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

I, The Divine: A Novel in First Chapters

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  934 ratings  ·  121 reviews
Raised in a hybrid family shaped by divorce and remarriage, and by Beirut in wartime, Sarah finds a fragile peace in self-imposed exile in the United States. Her extraordinary dignity is supported by a best friend, a grown-up son, occasional sensual pleasures, and her determination to tell her own story.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1985)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about I, The Divine, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about I, The Divine

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  934 ratings  ·  121 reviews

Sort order
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autographed, lebanese
There are colors all through this book, starting perhaps with the red of the protagonist’s hair, a red she inherited from her American mother. Sometimes, in writing, color is just a prop, like cigarette smoke or a sunset; but sometimes it can be definitional, like this:

I was in New York last week and saw two retrospectives, Pierre Bonnar’s and Rothko’s. Besides noting that Bonnard could not draw if his life depended on it and that Rothko did not even try, I was stunned by a major realization. Wh
Odai Al-Saeed
هنا لبنان المهجر ...وهذه أفعال الفربة التي نكست بمهاجريها قسرا ....رواية مليئة بتفاصيل موجعة رغم سلاسة سردها ... الأتراح فيها تفوق الأفراح والوجع يطن أنينه في قلب قارئ الرواية قبل أن تدمع عيناه.
في أواخر سبيعنيات القرن السابق وبداية ثمانينياته فعلت الحرب أهوالها بلبنان حزين ممزق أثره واضح في رواية ربيع علم الدين ...راقت لي وأحببتها
"I have been blessed with many curses in my life, not the least of which was being born half Lebanese and half American. Throughout my life, these contradictory parts battled endlessly, clashed, never coming to a satisfactory conclusion."

An exceptionally brilliant prose.

The story of Sarah....Alameddine's language....Many many many pieces that NEVER come together....An irresistible journey through continents, times, secrets...LIVES...

A fascinating narrating. Witty and amazing.

Ghada Said
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Overall, a great disappointment. Despite being a smooth and fast read, the structure got frustrating, but mostly, I couldn’t sympathize with Sarah as much as I was probably expected to. I have a whole bucketful of sympathy but not much of it for women who choose to be passive in their lives and willingly play the role of the victim.
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel that, to all intents and purposes, should not work at all. The gimmick of an entire novel composed of false stops and starts of a Lebanese-American woman’s memoir – hence the ‘A Novel in First Chapters’ of the sub-title – should just be that, a gimmick.

For how else how can you possibly engage the reader emotionally if you are constantly highlighting its form? Surely, then, character and feeling are subjugated to the artifice inherent in the novel’s form.

And yet it works, magnific
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I may have a new favorite author. Spoiler alert: I'm not giving any plot spoilers, but if you'd rather discover how the writing style makes this book so unique... I might spoil that.

It really is written in first chapters, and once you get into it, doesn't that make a lot of sense? There are so many points in our lives that could be the first chapter, and each deserving of its own tone, style, point of view. Sarah is clearly the subject of the story, but by writing this way her story can also be
Kaj Peters
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
'I, the Divine' (2001) van Rabih Alameddine heeft een briljant postmodern uitgangspunt: de ik-vertelster (Sarah Nour El-Din) weet niet voorbij het eerste hoofdstuk van haar roman te komen. Het is geen vloeiend geheel met een afgerond plot en rechtlijnige karakterontwikkeling, maar een vastgelopen plaat waarin gebeurtenissen en personages steeds vanuit een iets ander perspectief worden beschouwd. Compleet met veranderingen in stijl, genre en vorm, met wisselingen in vertellersperspectief en met ...more
Natheer Malkawi
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
رواية عظيمة، أصعب من أن تُختصر في مراجعة سريعة، بل ربّما من الأخلاقي أن يكتب عنها شيء طويل يستحقّها. الرواية تطرح سؤالًا سابقًا عليها: لماذا يتم القفز عن العرب الذين يكتبون بلغات سوى العربيّة؟ على الأقل المجيدين منهم؟. هذا نصّ هائل، سواء على مستوى التقنية أم وجودة الكتابة. أعود إلى مسألة القفز، هذه الرواية، وإن تأخرت ترجمتها 12 عامًا، لكنّها وصلتنا قبل أن يشتهر ربيع علم الدين في الغرب، أي أنّ ثمّة اهتمام ما، وهذا الاهتمام لم يكن مشروطًا بجوائز غربيّة. لعلّه ضعف الدعاية، من دار النشر لا الكاتب. ع ...more
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is such genius: every single chapter is written as though it's a first chapter ... and it is such a wonderful, engrossing read! It felt like meeting a new friend and getting to know her bit by bit; every story (chapter) stands on its own, but when combined as a larger piece (an entire book) the whole story comes to light. It flips back and forth, from characters perspectives, from Lebanon to New York City to San Francisco. Although this is mainly the story of Sarah Nour El-Din, you als ...more
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This book was excellent! It is 'a novel in first chapters'. Sarah is trying to write her memoir and never gets past the first chapter. Each chapter in the book is another attempt to start the memoir. She knows she has a story to tell and is trying to find herself through the process. Rabih Alameddine, captures the voice of Sarah beautifully. At each attempt at a first chapter more is revealed about Sarah's life growing up in Lebanon, her move to the United States and why she never really feels a ...more
Sarah Makarem
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Alameddine's eye for details succeeds again in light-heartingly portraying a figment of Lebanese society, that of the Druze.
Do not expect to quench your thirst for a heart warming linear narrative, or for a cathartic dramatic piece through this work. Reading this novel requires a little more effort on your behalf by an unguided weaving and reweaving webs of narrations.
Alameddine celebrates womanhood, family and identity conflict in a masterful design of first chapters with no endings; a cyclic r
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After reading three books of his, I think I may have a new favourite author. This book is quite simple; first chapters, because what we remember in life is never comtinuous; mostly the peaks and valleys. And we keep stopping in the middle, only to start again; sometimes even a completely different story. This is about the meaning of starting over--which is just carrying our past with us, for a stronger "beginning."
Aug 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
روايه مثيره للقراءة وغريبه..طريقه كتابتها لم نعتد عليها. ليست بالنمط الكلاسيكي المتعاد. يستخدم فيها اسلوب اقرب للواقع لسيدة تريد كتابة مذكراتها ولكنها مترددة. فتبتدأ من جديد بطريقة جديدة كل فصل وأخر..

الرواية مترجمة للعربيه والترجمة رائعة وسلسه ومن اسباب أعجابي الشديد بها.
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I don't remember reading a book as imaginative as this one in a very long time! Alameddine swept me off my feet again! I'll just say this- READ IT!
Where does the story of a person's life start, and why? If you try hard enough, can your life be accurately framed in an introductory chapter? Sarah Nour El-Din's attempts at writing her life story result in this "novel in first chapters."

Alameddine's layered novel is both an interesting literary exercise and a compelling story about love, life, stories, and family. Each chapter is a first chapter: some false starts, some emotional purges, some factual and some fictionalized scenes, some moment
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am fascinated by the form of this novel—wonderful, experimental piece. I’m reading Alameddine’s novels for PhD research, and it is difficult to be analytical and objective because I want to be friends with all his protagonists including Sarah.
Alessandro Argenti
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: libano
Ogni capitolo è sempre il primo capitolo: pensavo che la mia edizione fosse assurdamente sbagliata invece è proprio cosi! Aldilà di questa curiosa scelta il romanzo è divertente e efficace, la lettura è scorrevolissima e il linguaggio attuale e appropriato. Una buona scoperta per questo autore.
Negar Gh
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-read
I love this book. It was simply amazing!
I loved how he wrote it in a different writing style.
highly recommend this book!
Talla Bavand
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking, unique always real. Written by a man who could sound so much like a woman
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love this concept: each chapter is chapter 1. It makes you think, where does your story really begin? When you were born, experiencing your first love, when your mother leaves your family, when your heart is broken? Sarah, the daughter of the American woman and the child of the Lebanese man has to figure out who she is in relation to these people. Can she be her own person - or is she the worst of her parents? Hers is the story of being abandoned, and also abandoning. Remarkable to me, is Rabi ...more
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a book about Sarah, a Lebanese woman who "runs away" from her life's struggles in Lebanon, and goes to the US, hoping to re-create another shape of herself. This book is a first-person narrative which is impressive given that the author is a man. Sarah's life might not be that extraordinary. But she's a woman I enjoyed meeting. I loved her and connected so much with her worries, passions, and doubts. Everything she told me in those pages is interesting and because of that, I was eager to ...more
Heather Fox
Oct 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the first 3/4 of this book, and then it sort of lost steam for me.I loved the idea of first chapters. It is such a unique concept, but it makes so much sense- when you are writing a story about ones life, there are so many places the story can begin. I loved that- but the last chapters did meet up with my expectations due to the intrigue I had at the beginning. I especially disliked the last chapter- it really did not "end" things for me and that chapter seemed so out of sync fo ...more
Jan 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Interesting technique (it's a novel entirely made up of first chapters begun and discarded) and one that rewards close reading. The book is about a Lebanese Druze girl growing up and her identity crisis when she moves to America. Mostly I liked this book technically, but it seems like a popular plot/theme for books these days, so if you like those sorts of books this is an interesting formalistic style for it.
Ann Kuhn
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
I kept going... but only because I had just read The Unnecessary Woman by Alameddine and rated it an unprecedented 5 stars (for a novel). This was rough. I felt like I was reading a rough draft, which I guess was the point? But much too disjointed to ever engage in. Disappointed.
Sara Zaiter
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
كتاب جميل، لكنه غير متسلسل الاحداث وبعض الافكار غير مكتملة. أظنّ أنّ المذكرات هي مذكرات فتاة موجودة فعلاً وليست من ابتداع ربيع.
Bethan Archer
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-re-read
Possibly one of the best books I've ever read. It demonstrates a mastering of construction, moving through time and slowly unveiling the plot, in a manner that's almost unparalleled.
Karen Libby
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I did not want to like this book as I was reading it. But read on, because I highly recommend it. It's a novel in first chapters, as the protagonist Sarah tries to write and rewrite herself, false starts, endless looping back to try to communicate the same thing through different characters' perspectives, different narrative points of view. Some chapters are titled "Chapter One" (many) and some are titled with significance to content. Just when I'm enjoying Sarah's emerging story, it becomes exc ...more
Aug 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Naprawdę chciałam zachwycić się tą książką, Alameddine skradł mi serce parę lat temu. Z jednej strony mam niedosyt, bo ostatecznie nie zostały opowiedziane te historie, które wydawały mi się najbardziej interesujące, a forma, gdzie każdy rozdział jest pierwszym rozdziałem wspomnień Sary, podoba mi się w założeniu bardziej niż w realizacji.
W jednym ze środkowych rozdziałów jest opis wielokrotnego gwałtu - jeśli wcześniej coś wskazywało na to, że on się pojawi to ja tego nie wyłapałam (ale czytał
Laurie Applebee
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
My first Rabih Alameddine book & book review.

Rabih Alameddine is an incredible writer, unique, haunting and stylistic in his casual approach to narrating Sarah Nour al-Din's life through the medium of First Chapters.

It's the first book I've read in this style and it's wonderfully laid out.

Rabih Alameddine also manages to capture the feelings and thoughts of a woman with precision.

As someone who lives in the Middle East and sees the struggles many of my friends face between honoring their cul
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
great book 1 8 Jan 15, 2010 06:31PM  
  • Sitt Marie Rose
  • رحلة غاندي الصغير
  • The Night Counter
  • The Stone of Laughter
  • Arabian Jazz
  • Censoring an Iranian Love Story
  • The Locust and the Bird: My Mother's Story
  • Yalo
  • The Rug Merchant
  • A Girl Made of Dust
  • Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture
  • That Other Me
  • Naphtalene: A Novel of Baghdad
  • The Punishment of Gaza
  • Water Ghosts
  • A Map of Home
  • الاختفاء العجيب لرجل مدهش
  • The Prophet: And Other Stories
Rabih Alameddine (Arabic: ربيع علم الدين) was born in Amman, Jordan to Lebanese parents, and grew up in Kuwait and Lebanon. He was educated in England and America, and has an engineering degree from UCLA and an MBA from the University of San Francisco. ...more
“I believe one has to escape oneself to discover oneself.” 94 likes
“I wonder whether there is such a thing as a sense of individuality. Is it all a facade, covering a deep need to belong? Are we simply pack animals desperately trying to pretend we are not?” 32 likes
More quotes…