Leah Greenblatt
July 24, 2009 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Night Counter

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Alia Yunis
publisher
Shaye Areheart
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B+

Yunis, a Chicago-born professor living in Abu Dhabi, weaves a colorful tapestry in her impressive if uneven first novel, The Night Counter, centered on the Lebanese-born matriarch of a sprawling Arab-American family. Convinced her end is near, 85-year-old Fatima speaks daily to the legendary seductress and storyteller Scheherazade, who travels across the globe — Gaza, Los Angeles, Las Vegas — to observe Fatima’s children, and her children’s children, each caught up in their own dreams and tribulations. The plotlines are often more compelling than the dialogue (Yunis’ attempts at modern American vernacular can be jarringly graceless), but the book is rich in character and spirit. B+

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