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The Thirty Names of Night

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  754 ratings  ·  203 reviews
Five years after a suspicious fire killed his ornithologist mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother’s ghost has begun to visit him each evening. As his grandmother’s sole caretaker, he spends his days cooped up in their apartment, avoiding his neighborhood masjid, his estrang ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 24th 2020 by Atria Books
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Will Byrnes
“What did they see, Mama?” I murmured to her. “What was it that came to meet the birds that flew into the west? ”
…My mother turned her face to me over her shoulder. “What came,” she said, “was night, and all its names.”
…not all migrations end with a return home. Every memory begins to cut if you hold onto it too tight.
Reading Zeyn Joukhadar’s The Thirty Names of Night is like walking through an incredibly rich and diverse aviary. Our attention is dr
Sep 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Netgalley and Atria Books.

There was a LOT going on here.. too much, actually.
I found myself skimming through much of it.
It’s a story of immigrants, a transgender trying to belong, ghosts, the history of the “little Syria” area of New York, art, and birds... yes, lots of birds 🤦‍♀️
It started out good with the story of a young Syrian who lost her mother in a fire five yrs prior.. lives in New York with her grandmother and is taking care of her. This young girl does not feel comfortabl
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hard-soft-copy
What a remarkable, stunning, memorable, huggable story. I read The Map of Salt and Stars by this author two years ago and could not imagine writing more lyrical and descriptive. I loved every minute with that book, but wow. In The Thirty Names of Night, Zeyn Joukhadar has penned a masterpiece. Where The Map of Salt and Stars has symbolism with salt, Thirty Names has the symbolism and imagery of birds. I could go on and on about the stunning ways birds were integrated into the story.

The character
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars, rounded up
It’s hard to describe this book. As others have said, there’s a lot going on here. A closeted trans Syrian American boy in America discovers the journal of a Syrian American artist and discovers a link with his dead mother.
This is a lush, beautifully written book. We hear from two different narrators. The trans young man, whose chapters initially have the name crossed out, is haunted by his dead mother. His mother, who was an ornithologist, was trying to find a bird others

This story begins exactly five years after the loss of the narrator’s mother, and on this night New York City will see forty-eight sparrows fall from the sky. The narrator sits on the roof of Teta’s, his grandmother, apartment building, observing the sky as birds drop, individually, one at a time. Thinking of his mother, how everything since then has changed, how even their grieving has changed, and how it has changed them. The remnants of her life that she left behind have become so precious, h
Jenny Lawson
Dec 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
So beautifully written. It felt like part dark fairy tale mixed with absolute truths. I loved it so much that I chose it for December's Fantastic Strangeling Book Club. ...more
Martie Nees Record
Aug 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Genre: LGBTQ/Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Pub. Date: November 3, 2020

There is so much going on in this beautifully written novel. You will meet artists and three generations of Syrian American women. You will learn about French-occupied Syria during the early twentieth century, as well as a long-forgotten NYC neighborhood called Little Syria. You will also read about birds and ghosts. The author mixes up the genres. There is historical fiction, literary fiction, magical realism, comin
Oct 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
3.5 avian stars

I picked this one up because I really enjoyed the author’s first book “The Map of Salt and Tears.” This book has the same lyrical quality but otherwise is difficult to describe. I did enjoy learning more about Syrian Americans.

This book is set in New York and features a trans boy who is uncomfortable in his body and identity. His mother died five years before and he still sees her ghost everywhere. There are so many birds in this book! I’m not sure if they were all real birds or i
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Thirty Names of Nights is one of those books that leaves you in tears (the good kind) and makes you keep saying to those around you (if they're the patient type) "thank G-d THIS writer was born to write THIS book NOW." It's peopled with the kind of complex, diverse individuals that show up far too rarely in contemporary fiction. The cast is multi-generational, mostly Syrian-American, living in post-9/11 New York City when immigrant hopes of being embraced as part of society-at-large have bee ...more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
'I have been waiting all my life to be seen.'

This is the story of three generations of Arab-Americans told through two timelines and through the experiences of a young trans man and a talented artist named Laila. Their two stories are intertwined in the novel, joined by their love for art and ornithology. The book is beautifully written with fascinating, heart-breaking characters. Joukhadar writes about the Arab-American experience but also about finding one's personal identity. 'I am a fool. I
The Thirty Names of The Night started off so well until after a few chapters I realized I was skimming. The writing was beautiful but it was too descriptive so I quickly lost interest. There’s too much going on with going back from present day to the past. It wasn’t a bad book but just not for me, the descriptions became lost and convoluted. There is a LOT of talking about birds, almost the whole book. I don’t find anything interesting about bird watching or drawing birds or birds in general. I ...more
Casey the Reader
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, lgbtq
Thanks to Atria Books for the free advance copy of this book.

📚 Beautiful writing, particularly the descriptions of birds and the paintings of them.
📚 This is an #ownvoices book, and the portrayal of a trans boy who isn't out yet feels so real - the delicacy of the situation is tangible.
📚 The way the two storylines interweaved was masterful, and I was in tears at the end.
📚 I don't think I've ever read a story about a queer Syrian American and I'm so glad this book exists now.
📚 I just cannot find
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-net-galley
Trying to summarize this novel would be futile because any attempt wouldn't capture the lyrical nature of Joukhadar's writing, or his seemingly effortless ability, as in his first novel, A Map of Salt and Stars to find connections or mirrors between past and present, but I'll give it a shot.

With The Thirty Names of Night Zeyn Joukhadar confirms his standing as a powerful Arab American writer. In a layered and luminous novel, Joukhadar gives voice to multiple generations living the Arab immig
Mel (Epic Reading)
May 06, 2020 marked it as up-next-arcs
Shelves: arc-netgalley
I loved Map of Salt and Stars. Really excited for this one! And I was fortunate enough to get an eARC.
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essentials
This is the first book in genuine years where I didn't look at the percentage number and mapped the story template onto the story itself. All I did was read this by morning and by night like a story passed down from generations to generations. So gorgeous. So stunning. Just... it's a perfect book by all accounts. ...more
I loved the overall themes and the storyline of Zeyn Joukhadar’s second book! The main character is a trans Syrian-American boy who takes care of his beloved aged grandmother in a New York City apartment. Five years ago, he lost his ornithologist mother in a fire in a building Now, her ghost visits him in the evenings. With her death still encompassing him and the weight of his own life’s journey as a trans boy, he spends lonely hours in his apartment, stepping out in the evenings with close fri ...more
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Thank you, Netgalley and Atria Books, for giving me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If I rated books based on good intentions, five stars wouldn't be enough for "The Thirty Names of Night." Mr. Joukhadar wants to celebrate the Muslim trans/LBGT community, honor immigrants of color, mourn a lost New York demolished in the name of progress, and educate the reader about the many spectacular species of birds in both the Middle East and North America, and probably a cou
Kerry Pickens
Apr 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2020
This book is very lyrical and poetic, but the plot is sketchy and hard to follow. It is not clear that the main character is transgender or what the significance of the found book is. The street scenes of New York are interesting but the storyline is too vague and slow moving to keep my attention.
What an incredibly beautiful novel! I considered requesting an arc from the publisher to feature on my bookstagram and I’m honestly kicking myself for not doing so because with it’s focus on birds, art, Syrian immigrants, and queerness, this book was absolutely made for me. If any, and ideally multiple or all, of those subject matters appeal to you- definitely don’t miss out on The Thirty Names of Night. Similarly, I’d heavy recommend this one for fans of historical fiction. I’ve grown tired of ...more
May 04, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
May 1, 2020: Featured in Fanticipating Reads of May 2020!

✔ features three generations of Syrian-Americans
✔ mystery around birds
✔ trans boy protagonist
✔ mother’s ghost guides her son, Nadir, to unravel the mysteries around a rare bird
✔ ‘important themes of migration, sexuality, belonging, and love.’
Jan 07, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: lgbtq, 2020-release
Ya'll...I cannot wait for this book to come out!
It sounds incredible and just wow. If Map of Salt and Stars is anything to go by, I think the Thirty Names of Night is going to be heartbreaking with beautiful language.
Glenda Nelms
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“To the night, I am a body without a past or a future, a pillar that bends light. The night doesn't know my name.”

Haunting, breathtaking and beautiful novel about a Queer Syrian American trans boy who isn't ready to come out. Very reflective and descriptive. Told in two different points of view. Birds and paintings of birds remind him of his mother.

TW: Islamophobia, death, grief, xenophobia, transphobia, sexual assault.
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-releases
Great adult novel featuring dual timeline: we learn a story about Leila, a queer Syrian immigrant artist in the US of 1930s-1940s through the diary a queer trans Syrian immigrant artist found in the modern time. His arc revolves around grief and trying to finish the task his mother started. The novel has done so much and it combines various themes together seamlessly. It’s a story about family and complicated family bonds, it’s about art and passion and striving to be more, it’s a portrayal of m ...more
Nov 13, 2020 added it
thank you to for providing me with an early audiobook copy of this EXTRAORDINARY story! this book tackles so many topics and it does it with so much grace, weaving our main character’s coming out process with stories of the past. it talks about transphobia, gentrification, connection, religion, racism, queer love, and birds. i can’t recommend this book enough- be fully prepared to feel all the feelings. while the audiobook is done very well and i loved the narration, i feel like i misse ...more
Lisa Konet
-1 too much happening
-1 Arabic customs/lifestyle not explained well
-1 story all over the place
+1 descriptions/imagery
+1 cover

I really wanted to love this book but it was struggle. The cover art is great and the title is catching. However, the book takes place largely in the Little Syria section of NYC with customs and culture that are not explained well are vague AF. The only saving grace as to why I suffered on hoping this would improve is the imagery. Transsexuals, ghosts, many birds; it was a
Janet Hutcheson
May 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
I am sad that I didn’t like this book. It just was so confusing-too many themes and too many characters. I struggled through it hoping it would get better. Most people gave it excellent reviews so I feel bad being in the minority.
I put off starting this book for too long because I knew that once I started it I wouldn’t be able to stop, and I knew that all too soon it would be over, and I would be left craving more. I absolutely loved Zeyn Joukhadar’s first novel The Map of Salt and Stars, it still haunts me today, the parallel storylines, the epic descriptions, the words that made my heart hurt, and fly at the same time. So obviously I was overjoyed when I saw that his second novel would be released this year. And it is ...more
Hannah // Book Nerd Native
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a stunning story about identity and discovering oneself. This book was so reflective and open, and offered some really great conversations. I think this one would be great for book club! I really love books with two storylines and points of view that eventually find a connection point, and this one weaved this connection together perfectly. It was beautifully written, but definitely more consumable than a lot of literary fiction titles I've read. It was compulsively readable, making this ...more
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar is a fascinating dual timeline epistolary novel in the form of journal entries written to loved ones both characters have lost. The novel focuses on Laila, a Syrian woman who immigrated to New York City in her youth and documents her life in the mid twentieth century. Laila Z. ultimately becomes an artist known for painting birds who mysteriously disappears. The other protagonist is a 2nd generation Syrian-American trans man in his twenties in present ...more
Dec 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

CWs: Graphic descriptions of medical complications due to menstruation, allusions to homophobia and racism, mentions of Islamophobic violence/hate crimes, brief descriptions of sexual assault, trauma relating to fires, exploration of grief and loss of a parent
"I think of the last time I used my hands to make something beautiful. As long as my body was not for myself, I stopped allowing myself the luxury of wanting...I bend and untangle and step out of my body. I lightning myself
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Zeyn Joukhadar is the author of the novels The Map of Salt and Stars (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 2018) and The Thirty Names of Night (Atria/Simon & Schuster, 24 Nov 2020) and a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in KINK: Stories (ed. RO Kwon & Garth Greenwell), Salon, The Paris Review, Shondaland, [PANK], Mizna, and elsewhere, and has be ...more

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