“I’m Lebanese,” Alameddine quipped. “I have to change my glasses at least once.”
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"You're allowed to laugh," Rabih Alameddine reassured the audience packed into the back room of Bardo for his reading.The Lebanese-American author's impromptu reading at the Clemenceau restaurant last week was an animated event, thanks not only to his skill as an author, but his lively sense of fun. Alameddine spends roughly a third of each year in Beirut and the remainder in San Francisco. He had just arrived in Lebanon after a lengthy book tour in the U.S. to promote his latest novel, "An Unnecessary Woman". The book features a wonderfully eccentric narrator named Aliya, a 72-year-old woman with a passion for books. "An Unnecessary Woman" takes place over the course of three days and most of the book is set in the narrator's small apartment. It might not sound like the most riveting premise for a novel, but the humor and pathos in Aliya's voice as she reminisces over a life spent secretly translating literary classics into Arabic makes the book a moving and enjoyable read. Alameddine is one of Lebanon's best-known authors, and among the few who write in English. Reviews often pigeonhole him as an "Arab" or a "Lebanese" voice.
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