The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 11 Critic Reviews



In 2003, Osama al-Kharrat returns to Beirut after many years in America to stand vigil at his father's deathbed. As the family gathers, stories begin to unfold: Osama's grandfather was a hakawati, or storyteller, and his bewitching tales are interwoven with classic stories of the Middle East. Here are Abraham and Isaac; Ishmael, father of the Arab tribes; the beautiful Fatima; Baybars, the slave prince who vanquished the Crusaders; and a host of mischievous imps. Through Osama, we also enter the world of the contemporary Lebanese men and women whose stories tell a larger, heartbreaking tale of seemingly endless war, conflicted identity, and survival. With The Hakawati, Rabih Alameddine has given us an Arabian Nights for this century.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Rabih Alameddine

See more books from this Author
Rabih Alameddine is the author of "Koolaids," "The Perv," and "I, the Divine," He divides his time between San Francisco and Beirut.
Published April 15, 2008 by Anchor. 528 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Hakawati

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Osama, who has lived most of his adult life in California, speedily sinks back into the excitable embrace of his extended family (including numerous strongminded women) as they take turns at his father’s hospital bedside.

| Read Full Review of The Hakawati

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

Everything one comes across — each incident, book, novel, life episode, story, person, news clip — is a coffee bean that will be crushed, ground up, mixed with a touch of cardamom, sometimes a pinch of salt, boiled thrice with sugar and served as a piping-hot tale.” The result might have been ex...

May 18 2008 | Read Full Review of The Hakawati

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Stories descend from stories as families descend from families in the magical third novel from Alameddine (I, the Divine ), telling tales of contemporary Lebanon that converge, ingeniously, with timeless Arabic fables.

Feb 25 2008 | Read Full Review of The Hakawati

BC Books

See more reviews from this publication

While recounting the history, and the rise in fortunes of the al-Kharrat family through the eyes and memory of their prodigal son, Osama, on his returning to Beirut from Los Angeles for the death of his father, Alameddine regales us with the stories that entranced his characters when they were ch...

Apr 22 2008 | Read Full Review of The Hakawati

BC Books

See more reviews from this publication

I've always believed that if you want to understand a people's culture, you need to know the stories they tell.

Apr 22 2008 | Read Full Review of The Hakawati

Entertainment Weekly

Rabih Alameddine has a deft, winsome touch, and only a curmudgeon would point out that he’s gilded the lily: The novel’s digressions, while charming, dilute the power of the al-Kharrats' tragicomic struggle to thrive in their once beautiful, now ruined city.

May 20 2008 | Read Full Review of The Hakawati

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Everyone has a story to tell, and the book is bursting with them: stories that run parallel to each other, stories within stories, stories that bleed into each other.

May 30 2008 | Read Full Review of The Hakawati

Bookmarks Magazine

The Story: In 2003, Osama al-Kharrat, a software engineer living in Los Angeles, returns to Beirut after years away to attend to his dying father.

Apr 20 2008 | Read Full Review of The Hakawati

The New York Review of Books

One of them is Rabih Alameddine’s The Hakawati, set in a Lebanon that is, according to Tóibín, “rendered in luscious, luxuriant detail, with an extraordinary sense of felt life both in the present and in the remembered past, as though Bonnard were an abiding spirit here.” But in Alameddine’s nove...

Mar 04 2010 | Read Full Review of The Hakawati

Red Room

In this grand saga of a Beirut family with Armenian, English, and Druze roots, Alameddine constructs stories within stories that encompass the world of the jinni, the tales of Abraham and Hagar, the legendary pigeon wars of Urfa, Lebanon’s brutal civil war, and post-9/11 Beirut and L.A.

Mar 15 2008 | Read Full Review of The Hakawati

Fiction Writers Review

And in case we lose sight of the novel’s focus, each of its four sections opens with a series of epigraphs testifying to the power of stories, from sources as diverse as the Koran (“And as to poets, those who go astray follow them”) and Baybars, which stretches across the novel, is told within an...

Sep 06 2009 | Read Full Review of The Hakawati

Reader Rating for The Hakawati

An aggregated and normalized score based on 46 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review