Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Blog

By Kristyn Acho
Fall Intern, 2014

Last week, award-winning Arab American author Rabih Alameddine was named as one of the finalists for the 2014 National Book Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Young People’s Literature, and Poetry.

The Fiction shortlist includes, among others, Pulitzer-Prize winning author Marilynne Robinson; Phil Klay, a young marine who served in Iraq and went on to receive his MFA; and Alameddine.

Alameddine received the nomination for his 2014 novel An Unnecessary Woman, which tells the story of Aaliya Saleh, a compulsive introvert and 72-year-old book translator who chooses to never publish her English/French-to-Arabic translations. Through the voice of his protagonist, Alameddine ruminates on literature, philosophy, and art. His tone is personable, and it allows readers to come away with a new perspective on war, identity, and culture in the Middle East.

Following its release in February of this year, An Unnecessary Woman was lauded by such notable fiction writers as Michael Chabon and Aleksandar Hemon. Chinese-American author and MacArthur Fellow Yiyun Li praised the novel, stating,

There are many ways to break someone's heart, but Rabih Alameddine is one rare writer who not only breaks our hearts but gives every broken piece a new life. With both tender care and surgical exactness, An Unnecessary Woman leads us away from the commonplace and the mundane to enter a world made of love for words, wisdom, and memories. No words can express my gratitude for this book.”

Alameddine is a Lebanese-American painter and writer. He is the author of four novels (An Unnecessary Woman, 2014; The Hakawati, 2008; I, The Divine, 2001; and Koolaids, 1998) and a collection of short stories (The Perv, 1999). In 2002, Alameddine received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts to support his Fiction writing. He resides in Beirut and San Francisco.