Read The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine Online


In 2003, Osama al-Kharrat returns to Beirut after many years in America to stand vigil at his father's deathbed. As the family gathers, stories begin to unfold: Osama's grandfather was a "hakawati," or storyteller, and his bewitching tales are interwoven with classic stories of the Middle East. Here are Abraham and Isaac; Ishmael, father of the Arab tribes; the beautiful FIn 2003, Osama al-Kharrat returns to Beirut after many years in America to stand vigil at his father's deathbed. As the family gathers, stories begin to unfold: Osama's grandfather was a "hakawati," or storyteller, and his bewitching tales are interwoven with classic stories of the Middle East. Here are Abraham and Isaac; Ishmael, father of the Arab tribes; the beautiful Fatima; Baybars, the slave prince who vanquished the Crusaders; and a host of mischievous imps. Through Osama, we also enter the world of the contemporary Lebanese men and women whose stories tell a larger, heartbreaking tale of seemingly endless war, conflicted identity, and survival. With The Hakawati, Rabih Alameddine has given us an "Arabian Nights" for this century. "From the Trade Paperback edition."...

Title : The Hakawati
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781283995528
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 680 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Hakawati Reviews

  • Peggy
    2019-04-03 13:07

    Did you ever read a book so good that you had an actual physical reaction to something you read? Perhaps you were startled into a gasp of surprise when the killer was revealed. Maybe you shed a tear of joy when the good guys finally won, or your heart pounded when things weren't going so well. Or maybe, just maybe, if the story was good enough you dropped all of your barriers and immersed yourself in the world on the page, and suddenly this was no longer a book that you were reading but a story that you were living.This doesn't happen very often any more. More often than not, even if it's a delightful book that I enjoy reading, I don't fall into the book, losing all track of where I am or how much time is passing. Every once in a while, I get lucky and a book grabs hold that just won't let me go. But even more rare is when I get so caught up in the story that I won't let go, either, actually slowing my reading to make the book last as long as possible.This has happened twice in recent years: once with David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, and once with Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind. Both of these books absolutely transported me, and in both cases I didn't want to come back. And now it's happened again with Rabih Alameddine's upcoming The Hakawati.At its simplest level, The Hakawati (Lebanese for storyteller), is the story of Osama al-Kharrat as he arrives home in Beirut to celebrate Eid al-Hada with his dying father. But there are so many other levels to enjoy! Alameddine weaves a beautiful tapestry of family history and Middle Eastern history which he then embellishes with all kinds of stories: adventures, romances, fables, tall tales, and myths. There are stories within stories within stories, yet you never get lost or even impatient--the storyteller's voice is so amazing and the characters so entertaining that you surrender to the pace of the storyteller and the will of the tale.Pigeon wars in the skies above Beirut, war, family secrets, djinn in the underworld, hope, cruelty, privation, and so much more are all waiting for you between these covers; I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did.

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2019-04-06 17:53

    Onvan : The Hakawati - Nevisande : Rabih Alameddine - ISBN : 385664761 - ISBN13 : 9780385664769 - Dar 528 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2008

  • Jonfaith
    2019-04-02 09:57

    You can say that Lebanese has hundreds of lexemes for family relations. Family to the Lebanese is as snow to the Inuit.Most of us are familiar with the fabled conversion stories, on the night Mario Vargas Llosa earned his law degree he picked up Brothers Karamazov and was bewitched, 24 hours later, having read all night and the next day he completed the tome and discovered that he was destined to be a novelist. What about Marx reading Hegel for days on end? Samuel Delany relates how he left his wife at home in the morning headed to university and work and returned that night discovering the house undusted and the sink full of the same dirty dishes. Her diversion was Middlemarch, she had read the novel in just 13 hours, and despite being annoyed he instantly forgave her behavior. Was my experience similar with The Hakawati? No, not really. I began this endeavor impressed with the citations from Pessoa and Marias, the novel then opens with The Arabian Nights bleeding into a contemporary Beirut. It is an exploration faily and exile, narratives and nightmares. This was such an enchanting premise and yet where it began singing it proceeded to whisper. I thought I had lost interest. Upon the heels of an afternoon hail storm, I returned to the book and read. 340 pages later I was finished if unsatisfied. There are multiple framing stores at play and yet each successive circle appears diminished. Each cross-reference sounding more hollow. I will certainly seek out other works by the author, especially in the aftermath of Jeffrey's review. I will sigh in the interim and ponder a lapsed season of the Premier League and what should've been a 5 star effort by Rabih Alameddine.

  • Ghi
    2019-04-05 10:53

    I've said it before and I will say it again:"...One thing I will admit however, is that this book suffers greatly from ADD. It is hard to get into it if you aren't a book lover. If the first sentence of "Listen. Allow me to be your God. Let me take you on a journey beyond imagining. Let me tell you a story" does not capture you, then you truly are a lost cause. In this book, you will feel joy, sorrow, fear, guilt, dread and regret in every page. You will laugh and cry at the same time. You will be happy yet miserable. You will want the book to end, yet pray at the end of every page that it wouldn't. This book will torture you, make you suffer and leave you begging for more. It will show you worlds you never imagined, and some that you forgot you ever visited. Action, drama, suspense, comedy and tragedy all come together and conspire against you. You will be taken on a journey beyond imagining, one that you will hope would never come to an end.If a book could be turned into a human, I would marry this one. Even if he would suffer from ADD, even if his emotions will be unstable and all over the place, I would be head over heels with him. This book, makes you feel alive. This book, makes you believe in fairy tales, this book, is so powerful that reality slips away quietly when it is open, just so as not to disturb one letter written in it. This book is WOW!"I quote myself =D

  • Sofia
    2019-04-19 11:03

    Listen,let me tell you a story……….Imagine little wizened Rumpelstiltskin choosing pieces of straw which he then nimbly spins into gold. Threads within threads. This is what this story is like. Alameddine might not be wizened, I do not know, I have never met him. I have only met him through his stories and let me assure you he is a magical word weaver. Laying before me pieces of precious gold.Writing this and missing the book. I’ve spent more than a fortnight with it and I’m going to miss it. It was not a book I could gulp down in one gulp. So many stories intertwined with each other that I couldn’t read it in big doses, not if I did not want to become confused and I didn’t. So instead I kicked back and relaxed with the book like listening to a Hakawati at a Lebanese cafe, you leave the world outside and listen to the world inside which reflects the world outside with some added spice and coffee (or tea in my case).This book is so full of small stories, nobody is too insignificant to have his story untold and in a world where the ‘personalities’ continually shove their story onto us, it is a refreshing breath of equality, reality.Does one story reveal all about a person, a people, a country, historical facts or do we need to gather all the stories we can and go through what is said and what is left protected by being unsaid. Why do we need our stories to be told? Without them we would end up being lumped all together. Those pesky humans on Earth, that little Maltese reviewer. Instead with our stories being told we become us, we are individuals, we exist and continue to exist. Ciao, ciao stereotypes, hello Sofia. By listening (reading in our case) we begin to see each other, to touch. But we cannot just limit ourselves to one story, to get to a kernel of truth we have to sift through many stories because:“Reality never meets our wants, and adjusting both is why we tell stories.”And there is never only one facet to a story, our stories like us are multi dimensional so we do have a need, a great need, to read as much as we can about all that is out there.Special mention to Fatima and Layla in all their versions - my kind of womenFits into slot 7 of my reading challenge - A book that is a story within a story - because it’s a story within a story, within another story, etc, etc…………….Audiobook narrated by Assaf Cohen heard from 1st May 2017 to 5th July 2017- First thing, I do not think that I could have followed the story being narrated had I not read the book beforehand. The story has so many threads all being worked on at the same moments that it makes for difficult narration. That being said once I had read it already it was quite easy to follow the narration.Fits into slot 4 of my reading challenge -an audiobook - In total I've now spent almost 3 months in company with this book and when I heard the last word this morning, I felt the loss already. Should I just press the restart button so that I remain in their company :D-stories are shared memories - as long as there are our stories, we remain. Maybe one of our little wins against life and death and all that comes in between.

  • jordan
    2019-04-13 15:55

    Once in a very long while comes along a book so magical that one wishes it would never end. How perfect that Alameddine's The Hakawaiti is such a book? The title refers to the practice of a school of Middle Eastern story tellers who would entertain, often appearing nightly but drawing a story out over years, people coming back again and again to hear the next part of the tale. From the first line Alamaddine demonstrates himself to an heir to this great tradition, giving the reader a comfort that they are in the hands of a master story teller. "Listen," he begins. "Allow me to be your god. Let me take you on a journey beyond imagining. Let me tell you a story." The narrative might sound complex in its description, but is executed so masterfully that one wants to weep. Alameddine tells the story of Osama, the modern Lebanese scion of a prominent family, returning home to wait by his father's death bed. Through this framing narrative, the reader is guided through all sorts of other stories, including the history of this particular family whose grandfather happened to be a Hakawati, Islamic adventure tales, stories of romance, stories of magic, stories of loss and joy. Some stories are short, lasting no more than a few paragraphs, while others are interwoven through the length of the narrative. Even these long stories digress into other stories, each adding another thread to what becomes a beautiful tapestry. Thus we are treated the story of Fatima, a clever capable slave who adventures across many lands encountering jinni and demons, the story of Baybar, a perfect chivalrous prince who fights evil and creates justice, and many more. Like many good stories these include twists, sex, violence, vivid characters, and much humor. I could go on and on urging you to read this book, but really the more I write, the more time that will pass before you sink your teeth into Alamedine's delicious feast of a book. Don't wait even a minute, there is a story waiting to be told. Listen.

  • Meagan
    2019-03-24 11:05

    This is going to be a very difficult review to write, because I don't want to influence anyone unfairly through my review, or scare anyone off from reading it. Because here's the thing: I gave up. I didn't finish. But I think it's a very good and worthy book! Don't judge it based on me!Here's what happened:A few years ago I read several really glowing reviews of this book, and when I checked out plot summaries it seemed like a strong contender for something I would like. It has a magical, almost fairy-tale like tone, parallel storylines set in the present, the past, and the story, and some damn beautiful writing. And not overwrought or snooty beautiful writing, either. It's accessible and vivid and often lovely. When it finally came up on the top of my reading list (yes, it takes years. I have a problem.) and I started reading, I readily acknowledged that this is an actual, honest-to-god, good book. Not a "you should read this because it's good for you" good book, but one that's worth reading.So why did I quit, you're asking. Believe me, it was not an easy decision. A friend had to lecture me severely and more than once about practicing what I preach. It was hard to give up on this book because I could see its quality on every page. I knew it was a good book, and I knew that I should like it. But I just wasn't connecting with it personally. It was like seeing something beautiful from a great distance. I saw it and thought "wow, that's pretty." But I wasn't truly involved. I wasn't truly moved. I have no idea why this is true. This book should theoretically work for me. Maybe it's my mood. Maybe it has to do with the other books I've read recently. Maybe it's just not the right book. But my friend reminded me that life is too short to force yourself through a book that's holding you at a distance. So I'm admitting defeat. I'm sad about it. I wanted to be swept away by this book. I know other readers have been. So please. Give it a try. You might be the person that this book belongs with. I want this book to find its reader. It deserves that.But if you're like me, remember: life's too short. Admit defeat. Feel sad about it. But don't spend precious reading minutes on a book that isn't working. Even if it's a good one.

  • Tony
    2019-04-09 18:06

    It's not you, Rabih, it's me. Or, rather, I just tried this at the wrong season. There's as always the wonderful storytelling and the interweaving storylines suggest a larger purpose. I might have cancelled the golf match, turned off the baseball game, let the weeds grow in the garden, and ordered take-out, if this had been limited to the modern-day narrator. But when Fatima goes exploring, gets her hand ripped off and, whoosh, re-attaches it, I was weary that there'd soon be dragons. You're still my guy, Rabih. Another time, maybe?

  • Chrissie
    2019-04-18 12:47

    I listened to 4 hours of 20 hours and 53 minutes.....and then I gave up. Why?I was confused much of the time. I didn't always know who was speaking. I didn't know if I was listening to a "story"* or the present time thread about Osama al-Kharrat who was back in Lebanon because his father was dying. Or was this now a shift to Osama's youth? Also, I didn't know who was who. Aunts and uncles and cousins - I just couldn't keep them straight. The characters are not properly introduced. I was upset when another new person popped up out of the blue. It felt like I was supposed to remember them.....but I didn't know who they were. Had I forgotten them, or was I supposed to calm down and wait for an explanation? Sorry, but I can take only so much confusion at the same time. Furthermore, I do not understand how the different threads are interconnected. Why are we being told that and that? How are the themes related?I am fine with sex in a book, but in this book it just felt dirty or out of place. Again, I would ask, "What was the point of putting that episode in there?" I was never attracted, but instead repulsed. And then there are the stories! I found them too repetitive, too long and too fantastical. They are not told in one sequence. This too is confusing.What is this book trying to say? I simply could not follow it. It didn't grab my attention or make me curious. That is a serious problem.I just do not understand this book! The audiobook narration by Assaf Cohen was fine…… except there has to be some way of alerting the listener so they can distinguish between the central thread, side threads and the many, many stories. You could pause or use several narrators. * Hakawati means storyteller in Lebanese.

  • Hermien
    2019-03-27 14:05

    The delightful story of Osama al-Kharrat colourful Lebanese family interspersed with Arabian tales. The family story flicks back and forth in time and there are stories within stories, but I didn't find it difficult to follow and it gave the book a beautiful richness.

  • Melanie
    2019-03-29 09:55

    One of the main themes of the book is identity and the search for a hybrid identity without a conflicted identity. The Hakawati alternates between a first-person account of his contemporary Lebanese family life and imaginative stories. Of these stories, one ongoing narrative is that of Baybars. It’s one of several Arabic oral epics, and his scenes from the epic of Baybars are great. They show the liveliness of the epic: fight scenes, love scenes, adventurous travels, double-crossing and disguise, etc. I wrote my MA thesis on another Arabic epic, and I hope to write more about it some day.The Hakawati is divided into four parts. I liked the first two parts best because they are told from the perspective of childhood and adolescence. The second half of the book is told from a more cynical perspective. The first half of the book reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird because they both explore childrens’ perspectives of serious issues. If you like this book, you’d probably also enjoy the film West Beirut.Some of my favorite parts were discussions of the poet Al-Mutanabbi (p. 22-24), stories of love and disguise by Ibn Hazm (p. 29 ff.), the meaning of hakawati / storyteller (p. 36; 89-90), the tale of Hajar (p. 58-59), and the description of Umm Kulthoum (p. 166-167). If you like the fantastic elements in this book, then you’ll also probably like Alif the Unseen, and of course The Arabian Nights and similar stories in medieval literature.

  • Sanchia
    2019-04-13 15:58

    I loved this book and could not put it down, which made for a very tricky week as I have a six-month-old who also didn’t want to be put down. It’s amazing how much reading you can get done jiggling on the spot with baby in a papoose. I believe The Hakawati will top my list for the year’s most inventive, witty, adventurous and sexiest reads. It’s pure genius.Hakawati is Arabic for storyteller, and the narrator of this tale is Osama al-Kharrat, a young Lebanese man who has returned to present day war-torn Beirut to join his family at his father’s deathbed. His story is but one thread amid a sumptuous saga of Middle Eastern history and legend. Fabulous stories of warriors, sultans, imps, seductresses, jinnis and Crusaders; each fable evoking the diversity and depth of the Arab world. The Hakawati is also a story about the meaning of storytelling, the power and potency of carefully chosen words. ‘Listen’ is the seductive invitation used by the hakawati to begin a story and fittingly it is the novel’s last word, as you’ll want to turn back to page one, and start reading it over again.

  • Mary
    2019-04-15 09:39

    A rare and enriching feastHave you ever read a book or heard a musical composition and had your faith in the superiority of mankind's intellect restored? Rabih Alameddine, a true hakawati, has delivered a work so splendidly rich and powerful, no other writing will match its caliber. Written with true Lebanese voice and smooth, precise imagery, The Hakawiti stands as my favorite book ever written.

  • Nick
    2019-04-03 13:47

    "The Hakawati" is an elegy for the Lebanon, multicultural and urbane, that was shattered by the civil war from 1975 through 1990, depicted largely through the story of one of the narrators' extended family. The title refers to a professional storyteller, which the family's grandfather was but is also a wink (of which there are many in this book), referring to the author, who twines three stories together in alternating fashion. There is the family, gathered at the hospital deathbed of the father, thinking back on its history from pigeon handlers to automobile dealers to people just trying to survive amid the sectarian violence of Beirut. A second is the story of Baybars, the Mamluk sultan who defeated both the Mongols and a Crusader army led by Louis IX, the King of France who was made a saint. The third is a wild tale of an emir who wants a son, a slavewoman of incomparable wiles, and a variety of creatures from Middle Eastern legend. But for all the tragic weight of the family's story (especially as it reflects the sorrows of Lebanon), and the author's considerable powers of invention and humor, this is a novel particularly concerned about what it means to tell a story. It begins: "Listen. Allow me to be your god. Let me take you on a journey beyond imagining. Let me tell you a story." One uncle--I suppose that it is a measure of Rabih Alameddine's subversive instincts and his desire to wrest Middle Eastern traditions back from stereotypes that this worldly and compassionate character bears the name Jihad--even admits that the story of the heroic Baybars is a myth that cloaks the cruelty of the historical figure. The real hero here is the storyteller, and the ability to create something that entertains, enlightens and consoles us. And that is what Alameddine has exuberantly and earthily (caution--it may be altogether too earthy for the prim reader) done.

  • Lila
    2019-03-25 09:58

    The Hakawati is a rich tapestry, both compelling and moving of family's history woven together with various tales and tales within tales. Alameddine lists his influences as A Thousand and One Nights,Ovid's Metamorphoses, The Old Testament, the Koran, Italo Calvino's Italian Folktales and many more.The main story is of a large extended Lebanese family descended from a "Hakawati", or storyteller. Osama, the main protagonist, returns to Lebanon from L.A. to be with his dying father. His grandfather was a professional Hakawati and was the illegitimate son of an English physician and his Armenian servant, He was born in the town of Urfa, which according to Jewish and Muslim tradition is the hometown of Abraham.The story of Ibrahim (Arabic for Abraham), Sarah and Hagar is a reoccurring theme throughout the book. One of the grandfathers tales is that of an Emir and his wife who have 8 daughters but no sons. The older wife encourages him to have a son with her slave Fatima, who in turn suggests that she seek out a remedy from a magical healing woman in her hometown of Alexandria. This evolves into a magical tale involving the Djinn. Parallel to these stories is another tale the Emir tells his wife, the traditional epic tale of Baybars, a slave who rose to be a ruler. By Alameddine's own account he takes a lot of liberties with this one. Of all the tales, I preferred both the real life story of the Lebanese family and the magical one with Fatima and the Djinn. I liked the Baybars tales the least and could have done with less of them. They made the story too dense for me and that's why I gave this book 4 stars rather than 5. All in all however, I enjoyed this book very much and look forward to reading more from this author.

  • Emi Bevacqua
    2019-03-27 18:08

    Wow this book was exhausting to follow, even after having just finished another Rabih Alameddine book immediately prior to picking up this one, and even though some of the story line seemed to overlap: a Lebanese family separated by feuds, geography, war, and stubbornness. In The Hakawati, the present-day-ish story of reunification at the hospital for a dying loved one is interwoven with fantastical Arabian Nights type stories (Hakawati translates as storyteller) throughout the ages and spanning histories of the Mid-East and ALSO interspersed throughout are stories about all the family's various members of varying generations and on both sides of the main character Osama al-Kharrat's family. It's a LOT to try and follow. So while I was hugely entertained by the colorful stories, I was constantly preoccupied thinking the author must be using foreshadowing and symbolism to make the mythical stories represent family members, and I struggled unsuccessfully to figure that out or even keep the generations straight and it was tiring for me. By the end I was anxious to be done, and a little let down that I didn't get enough answers to who was meant to be symbolized by what. Maybe all this would've lent itself better to an audio version.

  • Natacha Pavlov
    2019-04-22 11:47

    This reading surprised me in two ways; on one level by its beautiful writing and then by my eventual waning interest. The author is undeniably skilled, what with interweaving present-day narrative with Arabian Nights-like stories emanating the Hakawati style. There’s a plethora of references ranging from folk tales, the three monotheist faiths, and Greek mythology—complete with elements like mutilation, homosexuality, and incest—that reflect the author’s creativity. (Bonus points for the hilariously unexpected use of the very Western name Heather amongst a sea of Middle Eastern names. LOL!)Perhaps what was most disappointing was not getting more personal information on Osama; notably the lack of reference to his romantic relationships. In the end I felt like I knew more about everyone else than about him. Now of course that could’ve also been done intentionally, ie: as a way to underline his own introverted personality? But after a read of that page count, topped with my mounting indifference towards the characters, it was disappointing and just ended up feeling semi-incomplete.

  • Zillah
    2019-04-20 12:39

    It wasn't one of those books that l couldn't put down and read in one sitting. I suppose u wonder how come l rated it 5* and shelved it as one of my favorites? Because it is one of the most amazing books l've ever held in my hands. Every time l picked it up again l was instantly dragged into this magical Alameddine's world composed of a million stories; about heros, demons, ordinary people, jealousy, love, forgiveness, dreams, disappointment, lust, bravery, fear, loss- each of those concerning all the characters, not just common people...The writer puts story into story into story, and so on, but in such a skillful way that one does not get lost in all of them, not even for one second, which really surprised me for l expected it at least at one point. And all the stories contained in the book make u want to read it forever.Rabih Alameddine is a true HAKAWATI!

  • Conor
    2019-04-13 15:55

    I read this for a book club, and it started out pretty well. This book is comprised of three interlinking stories--one a seeming roman-a-clef whose main character is a thinly veiled cipher of the author, a wealthy and failed homosexual straddling the Middle East and America; a fantastical story of jinni and mystical oases; and a semi-historical account of some guy named Baybars.I got all English 101 on this book at first, thinking that there must have been a reason for the imbrication. Why have three competent stories chopped into tiny pieces and shuffled around, if not to draw parallels and establish analogues? But as the plot plodded on, I grew less and less confident that these parallels would emerge. The conversation at the convening of the book club revealed similar frustrations and no greater insight into why the book was written this way. Some of this has influenced my two-star rating...I guess what this book did well was establish themes subtly. The inverse proportionality of family closeness with wealth; the ways in which homosexuality is signaled an tolerated in non-Western societies; the complicated dynamics that bind and rend families. I just wish it had been a bit more coherent!

  • Raquel
    2019-03-25 13:48

    Yendo a la obra social de lectura he visto este libro que me leí hace ya un par de años, y que no me acordaba porque me lo prestó una amiga en su momento y luego se lo devolví. Al verlo me he llevado una alegría enorme porque en su momento lo disfruté mucho y por ello lo recomiendo.Es un libro lleno de historia, historia de amor, de aventura, de política, de héroes, de villanos...., una historia que te atrapa y te evade a un mundo en donde todo puede suceder.

  • Katie
    2019-04-18 14:05

    This book is unique and imaginative and for the first 25% or so I loved it. The way the author zips back and forth in and out of storylines - the narrator's and the tales - keeps you on your toes. And the way the tales feel like old tales in their cadence and subject matter but then have some decidedly non-biblical perspectives... it's delightful. And you get to learn about Lebanon! But.The reimagined old tales sprawl out of all proportion to the main narrative, and and out of proportion to their ability to enhance it (though I'm sure some would disagree with that). And in and of themselves they get repetitive and predictable. By the last third of the book the main narrative is the most compelling one, despite a narrator who's a pretty flat person, and yet the tales just... sprawl. My impatience was probably exacerbated by the fact that I was listening to the audiobook, so I couldn't skim.There are definitely those who will be charmed by the structure and the voice and the subject matter enough to not mind its faults, but I'm not going to recommend it to people who just like great stories, which is what I'd hoped to do before it got mired.

  • Nino Frewat
    2019-04-03 14:44

    I did not like this book; I hated it. Had this book not been selected by the boo club's members, I probably wouldn't have finished it; I probably wouldn't have crossed the 200th page; the following 300 pages add nothing new to the story. It sapped the joy of reading out of me. I could not find anything original or smart in this book; I am Lebanese, and I can understand that readers of other nationalities, who never checked a Lebanese blog before, might find what is written informative. But to me, I don't read a work of fiction because it is informative; I love fiction because I like to experience the imagination of the author, to be dragged into a different world, and to enjoy the writing itself.This books offered none of the above; at times it felt like a reporter dispatching an article to be further trimmed; at others, it felt like the simple transcribing of past Arabic works of fiction, and I frequently asked myself whether the writer was insulting our intelligence.At the end of such a boring, long book, what irritates me is the knowledge that I lost some precious time which I could have used to read anything else from my TBR list!

  • Leota
    2019-04-03 14:07

    When I was in high school, every summer I’d go to Indiana for a week and let me tell you: they have some schizophrenic weather! Rain. Then sun. Then clouds. Then sun. Then rain. (Make up your mind, sky!) So consequently, I hated the weather in Indiana, then loved it, then was indifferent to it, then hated and loved again. That pretty much sums up my experience reading The Hakawati as well.This novel (?) is made up of stories upon stories upon stories, and everyone is a storyteller – even characters in the stories have stories to tell. Some of the stories (the journey of Fatima) totally had me in the palm of their hand, while others (I’m looking at YOU, present “action” of the book) I found pretty boring. But, Alameddine never keeps you in one reality too long. And this book is beautifully, if you’re a sucker for stories, I’d definitely recommend picking this one up.

  • Lena♥Ribka
    2019-03-24 11:57

    AudibleDNFI got an ebook's sample from Amazon and I enjoyed it. Now I know -the way this book is structured it is much better to read to it than to listen to it. Even if I liked the narrator at the beginning, I found very difficult to follow the plot. There is no pause or voice changing between the present and the "fables". I didn't know who was speaking at the moment and what it was about and how all these stories are connected. And with so many names - that are difficult for me to distinguish (I'm not good in memorizing foreign names) -listening to this book became less of a pleasure and more of a chore. It is why I decided to give this audio book back. I'll read it later, but for sure not listen to it.

  • Clare
    2019-04-19 11:51

    One of my top five favorite books. The perfect balance of all the things I like: self-discovery/reflection for a somewhat petty main character, mix of mythology and current events, magical realism, a satisfying quest (many satisfying quests), a distinctly playful style of prose. Excellent tension between history and identity. I love this book. I've reread it at least twice and it holds up every time.

  • Kaj Peters
    2019-04-12 12:48

    Ergens in een aftands ziekenhuis in Beiroet ligt een man te sterven, naast zijn sterfbed staat zijn zoon, een migrant die een nieuw leven heeft opgebouwd in de Verenigde Staten. Dit gegeven vormt de aanzet voor een ongebruikelijke familiegeschiedenis rond voorvaderen en nazaten van de Libanese familie al-Kharrat. Realistische herinneringen aan de Libanese Burgeroorlog, of aan andere emotionele momenten waarop de familieleden bij elkaar komen voor geboorte, huwelijk, feestceremonies en sterfte. Daartegenover staan weer de sterke verhalen waarmee grootvader, de hakawati (een Oosterse verhalenverteller), kleur geeft aan de vele familiegeschiedenissen. Over stomende romances van verboden liefdes vol hartstocht en passie, over behaalde zegeningen in de duivenoorlogen of tijdens de dichtwedstrijden in doorrookte cafés.Literatuur als een bontgekleurd weefgetouw van verschillende stijlen en tonen. Soms realistisch en geloofwaardig, soms magisch-realistisch of zelfs fantastisch, maar Rabih Alameddine blijft verrassen met deze onorthodoxe familiegeschiedenis. Hij weeft geschiedenissen, fabels, mythes, memoires en religieuze parabels tot één totaalroman over de menselijke lust van het vertellen van verhalen. Zinnelijke oriëntaalse sprookjes met djinns, duivels, magiërs, schelmen en heldhaftige strijdfiguren. Religieuze vertellingen over oorsprong, identiteit en afkomst, waarin Isaac van hogerhand de opdracht krijgt om zijn zoon Jacob te offeren, de basis voor het Islamitische Offerfeest. Of andere religieuze personages als Hagar, Sara, Abraham en Ismael. Het leest als een vermakelijke mengeling van de kinderlijk naïeve volksverhaaltjes uit Duizend-en-één-nacht met de oorsprongsmythes uit 'het Oude Testament' en de Koran'.Zoals een Oosterse verhalenverteller als een Hakawati voor zijn publiek de taak heeft om het vertrouwde en overbekende in een nieuwe vorm te gieten, zo is de roman postmodern van opzet: de losse mozaïekjes staan los van elkaar en hebben toch samen een interne samenhang. Het eerder genoemde weefgetrouw maakt dat het plot wordt voortgestuwd door associaties, herhalingen en parallellen tussen de verschillende losstaande vertellingen. Geen traditioneel begin, midden en eind, maar een kluwen van strengen doorheen tijd en plaats, bezien vanuit verschillende vertelinstanties. Die opzet maakt dat de roman bewust aan de oppervlakte blijft schrapen, want de diepgang krijgt het om de relaties die de losstaande verhalen tot elkaar hebben, en niet omdat het een gelaagde psychologische ontwikkeling of een intrigerend plot heeft.Oppervlakkig is ‘The Hakawati’ (2008) allerminst, het rijkgeschakeerde tapijt legt continu de nadruk op haar eigen vorm als metaliterair werk. Over verhalen die nooit af kunnen zijn en daarom voortleven omdat individuen, families en zelfs volkeren, er hun identiteit (-en) aan ontlenen. Over drie grote narratieve krachten– religie, geschiedschrijving en literatuur- die altijd in beweging blijven, waardoor er steeds veranderingen komen en dingen uiteindelijk verrassend hetzelfde blijven. En over de losgekoppelde wortels van een migrant als de ik-verteller, Osama al-Kharrat, die tegelijk wel én geen onderdeel meer uitmaakt van de vermeende verhalen rond zijn geboortegrond. (Maar waarvan de vertakkingen en invloeden ook bij de oorspronkelijke narratieven zoveel verder reiken dan één plaats of tijd.) Aan het sterfbed van zijn vader wordt hij letterlijk gedwongen om afscheid te nemen van zijn voorvaderen, terwijl hij daardoor een nieuwe kans krijgt om zijn verleden te herscheppen en een eigen toekomst vorm te geven. Of de culturele rijkdom die migratiegeschiedenissen met zich meedragen als de juiste 'hakawati' de vertelvorm probeert te vinden om te verhalen over die verschillende vertakkingen.

  • Ewelina
    2019-04-02 11:55

    the best book I've read this year. phenomenal.

  • Kelly Neal
    2019-04-22 14:42

    I liked the stories inside of stories and the never-ending quality of the stories. I assumed that the stories were going to be interrelated by the end, so I just trusted that assumption and plowed along even when i could not make a direct connection. I liked that the connections were not obvious, if there at all. I am not sure there were direct connections. It took me most of the novel to realize (i am slow) that the Hakawati was the son. Duh, he was telling the story, the only first person narrator in the book. And the story was about him, since the story was about everyone else. "Your story is never about you."I also liked that the stories were over the top mythologized, even or especially the contemporary "true' ones. "The only true event in that whole story, in all its versions, is that the man existed." No one's story is ever true, or complete, in and of itself. We retell, revise our own stories constantly as we re-shape, re-cast our identities and justifications for our interpretations of those stories. But it is not just our personal stories that matter. It is every story we hear. They all inculcate themselves into our lives, helping to give it meaning through the interpretations we take from the stories we hear. Early in the novel, the narrator's grandfather, the recognized hakawaiti, is fussing at Osama, "Here I am trying to infuse you with culture, my flesh and blood, my own kin." But Osama doesn't want to listen, to take the story as his grandfather is giving it to him. Yet the story still takes hold. Perhaps not in the way the grandfather intended. Later in the novel speaking about the Baybars story-line, "in almost al the remaining versions of the story, none of them are about Baybars. You see, the hakawaitis' audience is the common man who couldn't really identify with a royla, almost infallibel hero, so early on the hakawaits began to introduce characters that their audience could empathize with (p.441). The story is never really about the hero of the story, but more about the listener. What we take from the story that we are listening to, as well as the one we are making. The repetition of the word "listen" as the first and last words of the novel, as well as being repeated multiple times throughout the novel, I think, emphasizes the role of the listener/reader in the making of the story and the meaning that can be derived from the the story.I also found it interesting, at one point (which I cannot find right now) there is a direct quote from Macbeth's witches from the beginning of Macbeth. When shall we three meet again, and what not, which brings the idea of fate. Are we destined to live out our lives, as in a novel? Or do we have some agency? Or does the way we interpret the storylines that are given to us determine our fate, and in that act of interpreting lies our agency? Overall, the book has caused me to think about things. Not necessarily in a new way, but it is still resonating with my thoughts/life since I finished it this morning. I imagine it will for awhile yet. That is if I am aware enough to listen.

  • Yogi Travelling
    2019-04-11 10:58

    In Lebanese "hakawati" is derived from the word "haki" which means "talk" or "conversation", suggesting that in Lebanese the mere act of talking is storytelling.We are all living our own story - I recently returned from some time in Lebanon only to enhance my own experience, my own story...In this book the author Rabih Alameddine, does a wonderful job at moving between many different stories intertwining them as he sees fit. There is a main story that takes place during the Civil War in Lebanon with many supplementary tales, taking the reader into a fantasy land with genies, magic carpets and stories across the Middle East. Here I am ever so reminded of the 'Thousand And One Arabian Nights.'The author reminds us in a passage that when it comes to a story, we should "Never trust the teller, [but] trust the tale."I am reminded of the stories we are all living... If we keep telling a story (if we keep telling ourselves a story) we miss the tale itself (we miss the story itself)Our life is our greatest story, we are simply its main character.They say that life itself is a drama, we are merely actors on a stage. But to become the drama, we need to fall deeply into the part of the actor. And when we become the actor so deeply, the actor is lost and we drop into the act.We become the act, we become the story..."Man is eminently a storyteller. His search for a purpose, a cause, an ideal a mission and the like is largely a search for a plot and a pattern in the development of his life story - a story that is basically without meaning or pattern."

  • Irena
    2019-04-12 16:02

    Vrlo lako najbolja knjiga koju sam čitala u zadnjih par mjeseci.Radnja teče kroz više isprepletenih priča; priča koje se rađaju jedna iz druge i čine neprekidan niz sve do kraja knjige, pa i dalje.Priče o (važnosti i kompleksnosti) obiteljskim vezama, te srednjoistočnim klasičnim ljubavima i avanturama.Ono što je meni najbitnije: jako lijepo, dobro pisanje. Pisac ne smara nijednom u svih 660 stranica knjige. Željela sam da mogu brže čitati, toliko sam htjela saznati what happens next.Svaki put kad bih prekinula čitanje jer je prekasno, kao da mi je Šeherzada rekla: tune in tomorrow for more.gfjhldfkjhdlfhgdkfgdOno što mi je posebno bilo drago je portretiranje žena u knjizi: primjer sa Laylom, koja glupo pogleda muža koji je uz nju da je "zaštiti". "štaš ti mene štitit, lol?"Baljezga ovaj jaooo kako ću preći preko sramote koju mi je žena donijela?Vježbaj.Lina, također. Sasvim se glupo uda, iz njoj poznatih razloga, da bih se sa gubitkom suočila tako što je postala čelo obiteljske tvrtke. Not bad.Sposobne su, snalažljive, pametne i jake. Ima među njima budala, ali među svim ljudima ima budala - to je neizbježno. Naravno, ovo nije napravljeno na uštrb muškarcima. U momentima kad trebaju, skloni su popuštanju i gledanju na stvar iz druge perspektive, u prihvaćanju i promjeni stajališta. Također: they get shit done. Volim i što je među religijskim pričama, skoro pod ruku stoje i priče o homoerotskim ljubavima, na jednak način kao i heteroerotske.Uglavnom, knjiga mi je uljepšala ljeto!