Rabih Alameddine’s novel An Unnecessary Woman is narrated by Aaliya Sohbi, a brilliant, thoughtful, and sassy septuagenarian coming to terms with aging. She lives alone in her Beirut apartment, a profound introvert, reading constantly and translating complicated books into Arabic, never showing anyone her work. Grove Press hails the novel as “a love letter to literature and its power to define who we are.” Through Aaliya’s colorful musings on literature, philosophy, art, and her own memories, the reader comes to share her love of Beirut in all its complexity, and delves deep into her interior world. An Unnecessary Woman is a 2014 National Book Award Finalist.
Alameddine grew up in Kuwait and Lebanon. He earned an engineering degree from UCLA and an MBA in San Francisco before transitioning to painting and writing. His other novels include the international bestseller The Hakawati, Koolaids: The Art of War, and I, The Divine.
Colm Tόibίn, a long-time friend of Rabih Alameddine, will moderate the onstage conversation. An Irish novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, critic, and poet, he is the author of The Master and Nora Webster, among other books. In March, Undermain Theatre will stage Tόibίn’s play The Testament of Mary.
Colm Tóibín Photo by Brigitte Lacombe