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Laila HalabyWe come across many hakawatis: the grandfather, who was one by trade; Uncle Jihad, a car salesman ("modern-day storyteller"); and Osama al-Kharrat, the main character, who has been living in the United States for years and is returning to Beirut to visit his dying father. The ultimate hakawati, however, is the author himself, who has managed to convey, while writing in English, the art of Arabic oral storytelling…At this time in history, when we are constantly told stories but seldom well entertained, Alameddine juxtaposes truth and fiction, contemporary lust and bawdy tales of the past, today's grief and sorrow in the ancient world. Is it to remind us that nothing is new? To help us put it all in perspective? Or is it simply, in the tradition of all hakawatis, to tell a good story? Whatever his intention, the result is a delightful book that should be savored, perhaps over a small cup of very thick coffee, thrice boiled with sugar and a pinch of cardamom.
—The Washington Post