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The Night Counter by Alia Yunis
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The Night Counter (2009)

by Alia Yunis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 5 of 5
A charming multi-generational tale about a Lebanese-American family. When we join the story 85 year-old Fatima is 6 days away from the 1,001st day living with her gay grandson Amir in Hollywood after divorcing her husband Ibrahim in Detroit. Every night she tells a story to the spirit Scherezade, who visits far-flung members of Fatima's dysfunctional family to better understand them, while Fatima frets over who will inherit her mother's house in Deir Zeitoon, Lebanon. The tale has just enough comic relief and levity to keep the dysfunction from becoming overwhelming and depressing. ( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
This is a smart, laugh-out-loud book. The story is clever and imaginative. I still chuckle at various times, remembering scenes from the book. ( )
  ming.l | Mar 31, 2013 |
Disappointing.

I really didn't enjoy this book. It took me over a week to trawl through all the disjointed sagas of each of the characters' disconnected lives and although the end does explain why the family is so disfunctional, it was not enough to reward my perseverance.

The rather tall premise is that the elderly Fatima is visited nightly for 1001 nights by an apparition of Sheherazade that only she can see. Everyone else concludes that she is talking to herself.
Thankfully we do not join her until day 992 when she has just 9 days left to put her life in order and decide what to leave for each of her grown children.
Originally from Lebanon, Fatima came to the US as a young bride and has not returned since. Her 10 offspring are American in varying degrees, some have produced grandchildren and even great grandchildren. All of them have problems but they hide these from their mother and from each other so that each is an island, alone.
It was, overall, a rather sad book; so many lives disrupted by their inability to communicate with each other, to share and help one another.

I did find the assimilation af the American way of life quite interesting. Some embraced their new culture while others dug into their history for their identity. The intervention of 9/11 also had repercussions for this Arab family and they are plagued by some inept, rather annoying FBI agents too.

I had hoped for great things from this book, it is a genre that I generally favour, but this was a disappointment. ( )
  DubaiReader | May 6, 2010 |
992 nights ago, Fatima Abdullah was visited by Scheherazade for the first time, and every night since then Fatima has told Scheherazade stories of her childhood in Lebanon, counting down the nights until Scheherazade's fateful 1001st and final visit, which will also signal the death of Fatima herself. The matriarch of a large Arab-American family, Fatima tells Scheherazade stories about each her ten children as she tries to decide who is worthy of her house in Lebanon, which she has not visited since she left for the United States many years ago as a bride.

This book was an entertaining and quick read. It wasn't great, but I did enjoy reading it. Each of Fatima's children have interesting stories and I was never bored as I was introduced to each of them in turn, however at a certain point it became difficult to keep all of her children and their families straight, even with the family tree included at the beginning of the book.

You can read my full review at Rantings of a Bookworm Couch Potato. ( )
  boredd | Mar 13, 2010 |
A generally pleasant story but, yes, I'm still finicky about my fiction and wasn't impressed by the writing style. Happy to recommend this to friends whose first preference isn't Rushdie, Eco, et. al. ( )
  nickiplum | Oct 19, 2009 |
Showing 5 of 5
...a magical, whimsical read with plenty of humor and heart.
added by bell7 | editBooklist, Kristine Huntley (Jul 24, 2009)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alia Yunisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Püschel, NadineÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stadler, MaxÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Meiner Familie, ganz besonders meinen Eltern und meinem Bruder.
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Selma Haddads Beerdigung hatte viel länger gedauert, als Fatima erwartet hatte, länger als die beiden Beerdigungen letzte Woche.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307453626, Hardcover)

After 85 long years, Fatimah Abdullah is dying, and she knows when her time will come. In fact, it should come just nine days from tonight, the 992nd nightly visit of Scheherazade, the beautiful and immortal storyteller from the epic The Arabian Nights.

Just as Scheherazade spun magical stories for 1,001 nights to save her own life, Fatima has spent each night telling Scheherazade her life stories, all the while knowing that on the 1,001st night, her storytelling will end forever. But between tonight and night 1,001, Fatima has a few loose ends to tie up. She must find a wife for her openly gay grandson, teach Arabic (and birth control) to her 17-year-old great-granddaughter, make amends with her estranged husband, and decide which of her troublesome children should inherit her family's home in Lebanon--a house she herself has not seen in nearly 70 years. All this while under the surveillance of two bumbling FBI agents eager to uncover Al Qaeda in Los Angeles.

But Fatima’s children are wrapped up in their own chaotic lives and disinterested in their mother or their inheritances. As Fatima weaves the stories of her husband, children, and grandchildren, we meet a visionless psychic, a conflicted U.S. soldier, a gynecologist who has a daughter with a love of shoplifting and a tendency to get unexpectedly pregnant, a Harvard-educated alcoholic cab driver edging towards his fifth marriage, a lovelorn matchmaker, and a Texas homecoming queen. Taken in parts, Fatima’s relations are capricious and steadfast, affectionate and smothering, connected yet terribly alone. Taken all together, they present a striking and surprising tapestry of modern Arab American life.

Shifting between the U.S. and Lebanon over the last hundred years, Alia Yunis crafts a bewitching novel imbued with great humanity, imagination, and a touch of magic realism. Be prepared to be utterly charmed.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:19 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A magic carpet ride examining the lives of Fatima Abdullah and her huge dysfunctional family. Imitating Scheherazade, Fatima spins her own tales to the legendary storyteller, Scheherazade. And she has plenty of material: Fatima is dying, and more interested in her prized possessions, including a house in Lebanon, than in reuniting her splintered offspring and her estranged husband, Ibraham.… (more)

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