The Hakawati Osama al-Kharrat, an L.A. software engineer, returns to his native Beirut to join the family vigil at his father's deathbed. From this staid occasion blooms… 2008-04-22 Fiction Knopf
online-only book review

The Hakawati (2008)

Details Release Date: Apr 22, 2008; Writer: Rabih Alameddine; Genre: Fiction; Publisher: Knopf

Osama al-Kharrat, an L.A. software engineer, returns to his native Beirut to join the family vigil at his father's deathbed. From this staid occasion blooms a riot of stories concerning the rise of the eccentric al-Kharrat family. Osama's waggish grandfather was a hakawati, or storyteller, and his classic tales of princes, genies, and wise-cracking seductresses are worthy of Scheherezade. Rabih Alameddine has a deft, winsome touch, and only a curmudgeon would point out that he’s gilded the lily: The novel’s digressions, while charming, dilute the power of the al-Kharrats' tragicomic struggle to thrive in their once beautiful, now ruined city. B

Originally posted May 14, 2008