Alif the Unseen

Alif the Unseen

by G. Willow Wilson

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Overview

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

“G. Willow Wilson has a deft hand with myth and with magic, and the kind of smart, honest writing mind that knits together and bridges cultures and people. You should read what she writes.”—Neil Gaiman, author of Stardust and American Gods

“Driven by a hot ionic charge between higher math and Arabian myth, G. Willow Wilson conjures up a tale of literary enchantment, political change, and religious mystery. Open the first page and you will be forced to do its bidding: To read on.”—Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and Out of Oz


In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups—from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. He goes by Alif—the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and a convenient handle to hide behind. The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and his computer has just been breached by the state’s electronic security force, putting his clients and his own neck on the line. Then it turns out his lover’s new fiancé is the “Hand of God,” as they call the head of state security, and his henchmen come after Alif, driving him underground. When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days , the secret book of the jinn, which both he and the Hand suspect may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death, aided by forces seen and unseen.

With shades of Neal Stephenson, Philip Pullman, and The Thousand and One Nights , Alif the Unseen is a tour de force debut—a sophisticated melting pot of ideas, philosophy, technology, and spirituality smuggled inside an irresistible page-turner.

“[A] Harry Potter-ish action-adventure romance [that] unfolds against the backdrop of the Arab Spring. . . . Improbably charming . . . A bookload of wizardry and glee.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802121226
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 04/02/2013
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 264,214
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

G. Willow Wilson was born in New Jersey in 1982 and raised in Colorado. She is also the author of a memoir, The Butterfly Mosque , and the critically acclaimed comics Air and Vixen. She divides her time between Cairo and Seattle.

Customer Reviews

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Alif the Unseen 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Samantha_V More than 1 year ago
I was totally blown away by this book. It was not what I was expecting. If you thought genies were cartoon characters living in lamps like in Aladdin, think again. The genies (or jinn) in this book are both frightening, bizarre and yet totally relatable in an almost human way. (And funny too!) The cast of characters is incredibly diverse, and each has his/her own unique and endearing flaws. The setting--a Middle Eastern city referred to only as "The City" is very believable. I don't know much about the Middle East but if you told me this was set in a real city there, I would totally buy it. Yet at the same time, there are fantastical elements lurking beneath the surface that are unexpected, charming, and weird. Bring this one to the beach with you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Full of action,fantasy,romance,and insights into a foreign culture. Takes a while to really get into, but a great book.definitely one to reread
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully blends Arabian mythology with computer technology while delivering a great adventure novel. The author is well versed on Islamic culture and give us an insider view.
BMedvid More than 1 year ago
I read Alif as the monthly selection for my book club. The main character, Alif, summarizes the book nicely when he says "A girl he loved had decided that she did not love him - at least not enough. How was such a problem usually addressed? Surely not with the clandestine exchange of books and computer surveillance and recourse to the jinn." He later describes his situation as "I was a computer geek with girl issues. That sounds pretty ordinary to me." This story is anything but ordinary. I found it to be a fun, adventurous, and enjoyable read. It can be read for pure entertainment, but, it also has content for deeper investigations and conversations. The author combines classic computer geek culture, modern day socio-political themes, religion, and the supernatural into a fantasy thriller style novel. For me, she was successful, and this was a classic good versus evil story. Wilson includes quite a bit of tension between the unseen/hidden/belief and the seen/known/reality, as well as between the supernatural and "real" world. The unseen is manifested in many ways throughout the story including the computer aliases that protect and shield the gray-hat hacktivists, the traditional clothing of veils and robes worn by many characters, the unknown state censors, and most importantly to the story, the world of jinns. As the book progresses, that which is hidden and unseen becomes seen and known. This is especially true for many of the characters in the novel. At first, I found Alif to be a rather pathetic main character who lacked courage and whose whining/pining was irritating. However, as Dina so eloquently says to him "I was annoyed with the boy you were, I liked the man I knew you would become." This was also true for me. At the end, I felt I understood and like Alif as he grew and changed. Dina also becomes better known to both Alif and the reader. I truly liked her character. She is a character of piety, devotion, gentleness, and contentedness who chooses to wear veils. Yet none of that keeps her from being a "bad-ass" who can quickly cut to the chase with both her words and actions. Her perceptions, understanding, and believe in and about the supernatural and reality are insightfully keen. Dina truly knows and sees herself, it is up to the reader and Alif to move her from unseen to known. Other characters change and reveal their true selves throughout the story including Intisar, The Hand, NewQuarter, Azalel, and many other of the Jinn. The story also explores the ideas of the role and importance of religion in society and compares and contrasts it to more ancient supernatural fantasies. I particularly liked when the conversation between Alif and the Sheikh as they were discussing the morality of actions conducted in virtual space. The conversation ends with the quotation, "If a video game does more to fulfill a young person than the words of prophecy, it means people like me (the Sheikh) have failed in a rather spectacular fashion." This was followed by Alif saying "You're not a failure ... It's only that we don't feel safe. A game has a reset button. You have infinite chances for success. Real life is awfully permanent compared to that,". Definitely interesting food for thought. In many places, the novel seems to try and blend mysticism and spirituality. I enjoyed the parallel tracks of having a man of religion along with a jinn.
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Despite the marketing (references to Harry Potter, etc.,) on the book jacket, this is NOT a book for young readers. Explicit language and scenes throughout the book. Story was okay.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont see any instructions
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry but I cant chat anymore.i dont know why.chapter ten of my bok is out at spray result 8 or 9(the books got mixed up)if you get a roblox account my user name is pumpkin2222.you can search me under people.but make your user name something like sageleaf568 or something like that.my webkinz user name is tm123456 but i rarely go on.bye!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a rip off. U pay for 350 pages but there is one paragraph of writing on every page and as a whole it does not tell a story. U don't encounter the demon and u never see him hak anything. Bad writing bad purchase.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where are the instructions?