Rabih Alameddine’s ‘Angel of History’: Corny and Glorious

Arabic Literature (in English)

Lebanese-American novelist Rabih Alameddine’s The Angel of History hasn’t yet appeared — it’s available next month — but it’s already made the 2017 longlist of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence

This review first appeared on BookWitty:

Rabih Alameddine’s The Angel of History is not a novel so much as a fabulous cabaret show that’s set across multiple times and continents. Our performers shift through a fantastic array of costumes and voices, yet the show remains intimate, cigarette-hoarse, and caustically comic.

The performance is held together by the narrative efforts of our central character, the mediocre poet Jacob/Yaqub, and his muse Satan/Iblis, who is brought to life as an impeccably dressed, digital-recorder-wielding “Cast Out Angel.” This Satan may exist only in Jacob’s mind, but that hardly matters. What matters is that Satan cares about Jacob, and especially about keeping Jacob queer in a world that wants him ordinary, khaki…

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