The Angel of History - Rabih Alameddine

Staff Pick

Rabih Alameddine’s haunted and haunting fifth novel encompasses East-West tensions, racism, gender issues, illness, and more, though it unfolds over the course of just a few hours in the waiting room of a San Francisco psychiatric clinic. Visited by The Angel of History (Atlantic Monthly Press, $26) and other demons, Jacob, a Yemeni-Lebanese poet, is hearing voices. He’s heard them before, though not in a while, and now the return of familiars such as Death, Satan/Iblis, the Fourteen Holy Helpers (martyred saints no longer officially recognized) threatens to overwhelm him in a flood of unbearable memories, from his early years with his mother as part of the “whorehold” of a Cairo brothel to his father’s abandonment of young Ya’qub to be (re) educated by the French nuns of a Catholic school—all punctuated by news of ongoing drone attacks in Yemen. But what Jacob feels most keenly is the loss of his partner and many, many friends twenty years before. “AIDS killed all of us,” Jacob says, but, in fact, though grief left him “roofless in a downpour,” it did not kill him. Jacob survived—not, as he thinks, “in order to be lonely,” but to remember. As his paralyzing anger at last loosens, he wrests it into the form of stories, journal entries, and Satan’s interviews with the figures in Jacob’s life. As complex as its protagonist, Alameddine’s book is a dazzling cubist portrait of a man deeply hurt by history.

The Angel of History By Rabih Alameddine Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802125767
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - October 4th, 2016

The Angel of History By Rabih Alameddine Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802127198
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - October 17th, 2017