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The Thirty Names of Night

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  1,351 ratings  ·  345 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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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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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
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
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
A 4-star story with 5-star writing, until the 5-star ending made my eyes sting with tears. Reading this taught me the difference between sadness and sorrow.
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
Elyse  Walters
In ‘The Thirty Names of Night’, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one five years after the death of his ornithologist mother.
Nadir had been unable to paint since his mother’s ghost began 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 estranged sister, and even his best friend. The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to pai
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
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Feb 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I knew I needed to read this book the minute I saw the artwork. Yep. A gorgeously rendered, watercolor bird wing. Pair that (and an elusive bird thought not to exist by science) with breathtaking writing, and I was a goner.

A description of the bird in question:

Their wingtips were glossy blue-black, shimmering like the bellies of spiders; others said the white bodies and black markings were a myth, and that the only thing to interrupt their black plumage, dark as the moment after lightning, wer
Mar 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
I don’t know how to rate the novel “The Thirty Names of Night”. The writing is beautiful, almost dreamy. The story is a powerful one. Although this is a work of fiction, it opened my eyes to Syrian Americans, and especially to an area of NYC that was once “little Syria”. Oh, and birds! I loved learning about the avian world. Saying that, it was a chore to get back to the book. It wasn’t a story that drew me into it. And I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps it was a little too mystical (although I a ...more
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
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
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
Diane S ☔
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Thoughts soon.
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
Casey the Reader
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, fiction
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
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.
Fran Blake
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is astoundingly beautiful. The writing is gorgeous. I had some trouble with the structure, however, that is why a 4 rather than a 5+. It's a book I might read again. There is so much information, so much emotion and so much beauty. ...more
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
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
Mel (Epic Reading)
May 06, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: arc-netgalley
I loved Map of Salt and Stars. Really excited for this one! And I was fortunate enough to get an eARC.
Mar 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt, poc-authored
The Thirty Names of Night is a magical, cross-generational tale of transition and migration.

The narrator of this book begins nameless, unsure of themself as they care for their ailing grandmother and mourns the death of their mother at the hands of an islamaphobic attack. Their mother, an ornithologist, has left her with an interest both in her Syrian past and in birds. Each chapter of this book oscillates between the present, where the narrator struggles with their own gender identity and pla
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
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.
I’m trying to find the words to describe the experience of reading The Thirty Names of Night. For one, Joukhadar delivers beautiful prose, much like he did in The Map of Salt and Stars. There’s a particular vulnerability that Joukhadar shares with the reader that makes every chapter intimate. The pacing is slow, and I would say it’s deliberate as it gestures at the reader to reflect on the experiences of the two protagonists of this novel (whose stories intertwine).

There are two storylines that
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
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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 in KINK: Stories, Salon, The Paris Review, Shondaland, [PANK], Mizna, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best o ...more

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