Select one of the keywords
The Hakawati    by Rabih Alameddine order for
by Rabih Alameddine
Order:  USA  Can
Anchor, 2009 (2008)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

A hakawati is a Lebanese storyteller, and that certainly describes author Alameddine. In this novel are stories within and surrounded by other stories, which makes it multi-layered and unique but also very beautiful.

Osama has come to Beirut to his father's hospital bedside from America. Meeting all the relatives again brings back many memories, mostly of his grandfather, who spent many hours telling stories that Osama now remembers. So, for us readers, woven through these tales is the story of Osama's family. And as Osama reviews it all, he realizes that he now is the hakawati for his family.

At first I worried about keeping track of everything, for the stories are not told in one piece; there is a lot of interruption to go back and forth in time, and a story will often contain a character who tells another tale or two or three. When I learned to just relax and follow along, everything became much easier.

Through these tales, which have their origins in fantasy, history, the Bible and other sources, there comes a sense of what it means to be born and live in that environment. The surprise is the diversity - the main characters are not only Muslim, but Jews, Christians and even Druze. This book helps one to understand not only the meaning of an oral tradition but also what it takes to become the hakawati.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Historical books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews