The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine
Arab American National Museum
2017 Book Award Winner
(New York: Grove Atlantic, 2016)
Set over the course of one night in the waiting room of a psych clinic, The Angel of Historyfollows Yemeni-born poet Jacob as he revisits the events of his life, from his maternal upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse to his adolescence under the aegis of his wealthy father and his life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco at the height of AIDS. Hovered over by the presence of alluring, sassy Satan, who taunts Jacob to remember his painful past, and dour, frigid Death, who urges him to forget and give up on life, Jacob is also attended to by fourteen saints. With Jacob recalling his life in Cairo, Beirut, Sana’a, Stockholm, and San Francisco, Alameddine gives us a charged philosophical portrayal of a brilliant mind in crisis. This carefully crafted novel guides the reader through fields of pain, irony, humor, self-loathing, deep friendships, tender treatment of love, loss, and grief, intermingled with biting political and social critique.
Rabih Alameddine is the author of the novels Koolaids; I, the Divine; The Hakawati; and An Unnecessary Woman, which received the Arab American Book Award in 2015 and was a finalist for the National Book Award. He divides his time between San Francisco and Beirut. Follow him on Twitter @RabihAlameddine.