Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books
"There are many ways to break someone's heart, but Rabih Alameddine is one rare writer who not only breaks our hearts but gives every broken piece a new life."—Yiyun Li
Following the critical and commercial success of An Unnecessary Woman, Alameddine delivers a spectacular portrait of a man and an era of profound political and social upheaval.
Set over the course of one night in the waiting room of a psych clinic, The Angel of History follows Yemeni-born poet Jacob as he revisits the events of his life, from his maternal upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse to his adolescence under the aegis of his wealthy father and his life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco at the height of AIDS. Hovered over by the presence of alluring, sassy Satan who taunts Jacob to remember his painful past and dour, frigid Death who urges him to forget and give up on life, Jacob is also attended to by 14 saints. Set in Cairo and Beirut; Sana'a, Stockholm, and San Francisco; Alameddine gives us a charged philosophical portrait of a brilliant mind in crisis. This is a profound, philosophical and hilariously winning story of the war between memory and oblivion we wrestle with every day of our lives.
"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."—Michael Chabon