Very interesting concept. I enjoyed it.
The format of this entire book is a series of first chapters, whether titled, prologue, or written in French. I flew through it in 24 hours. I loved the novelty of it up til halfway through, and loved the main character Sarah Nour el-Din and all her family members too. Sarah's mother is American and her father Lebanese, she grows up in one country and then the other grappling with issues multi-cultural, psychological and otherwise.
There was a graphic rape scene that bothered me entirely because it seemed so obviously written by a man and then I looked at the back cover and realized for the first time this author is in fact a man; and then I didn't love the book as much from that point on. But I only ding Alameddine half a star for that scene, the other half because the first chapter gimmick couldn't sustain an entire book, for me. I think he's a great writer and I can't wait to start reading Hakawati next.
This is the second book about Lebanon that I've read, the first one was House of Stone by Anthony Shadid and the two could not be more different. I'm slowly learning bits of history like Beirut 1975 and gaining context for words like Druze and Maronite, and figuring them in among Shi'ite and Sunni frameworks.