I, The Divine

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Rabih Alameddine is one our most daring writers—daring not in the cheap sense of lurid or racy, but as a surgeon, a philosopher, an explorer, or a dancer. In this delightful novel, he takes his greatest risks yet, and succeeds brilliantly, in a work that while marked by radical formal innovation, manages to be warm, sad, funny and moving.”

—Michael Chabon

Named by her grandfather after the "divine" Sarah Bernhardt, red-haired Sarah Nour El-Din is feisty, rebellious, individualistic - a person determined to make of her life a work of art. In I, the Divine, she tries to tell her story, sometimes casting it as a memoir, sometimes a novel, full of sly humor and dark realism, always beguilingly incomplete." What emerges from these exquisite "first chapters" is extraordinary - a woman and a life as real as any we have known in literature. Raised in a hybrid family shaped by divorce and remarriage, and by Beirut in wartime, Sarah finds a fragile peace in self-imposed exile in the United States. Her vibrant spirit has survived violence, her mother's suicide, her sister's madness, and the impossibility of escaping her family (including her frighteningly entrepreneurial stepmother, who has hired members of Hezbollah to sabotage her competitors). Her extraordinary dignity is supported by a best friend, a grown-up son, sensual pleasures (occasional sex, frequent bubble baths, the company of cats), and her determination to tell her own story.

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