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The Thirty Names of Night

por Zeyn Joukhadar

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3281080,335 (3.77)27
"From the author of the acclaimed and award-winning debut The Map of Salt and Stars, a remarkably moving and lyrical novel following three generations of Syrian Americans who are linked by the truths they carry close to their hearts. Five years after a suspicious fire killed his mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother's ghost has begun to visit him each evening. The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria. One night, he finds the tattered journal of a Syrian American artist named Laila Z. She famously and mysteriously disappeared more than sixty years before, but her journal contains proof that Laila Z's past is intimately tied to his mother's-and his grandmother's--in ways he never could have expected. Even more surprising, Laila Z's story reveals the histories of queer and transgender people within his community that he never knew. Following his mother's ghost, he uncovers the silences kept in the name of survival by his own community, his own family, and within himself, and discovers the family that was there all along. The Thirty Names of Night is an imaginative and intimate exploration of how we all search for and ultimately embrace who we are"--… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 9 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Not my kind of novel but I think the author is talented. I did like the many references to birds. ( )
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
The Thirty Names of Night - Joukhadar
4 stars

I’d finished this difficult book before I realized that I’d also read The Map of Salt and Stars by the same author. Thinking about both books together helps me to sort out my likes and dislikes as it pertains to this author. His writing is strongest when he deals with hard reality.

It was a difficult book to read. There is so much pain and so much beauty. It was overwhelming. It is a split timeline story, alternating between the contemporary story of the Syrian-American, transgender Nadir and the early 20th century diary of a woman named Laila Z. Initially Nadir and Laila’s stories are linked by the identification of a rare (possibly mythical) bird. The stories become more tightly linked as the book progresses. As usual, I preferred the historical storyline. But, there’s no denying that the contemporary plot was the most compelling. My first observation of this book’s content is that it could easily have been a generational story told with old fashioned consecutive plotting. I’m so tired of this split timeline storytelling.

The contemporary story is the first person account of an unnamed (later, called Nadir) young person. It’s an interior monologue, sometimes a one-way conversation with the narrator’s deceased mother. The ghostly presence of the mother is taken as fact by the narrator. By the end of the first confusing chapter a few things are clear. This young person is dealing with more than one person should have to bear. Their mother’s death seems to have been an accident, but possibly the result of a hate crime. They are the sole support of an ailing grandmother. They are in physical and emotional pain struggling with gender identification. In the midst of all this, they discover the notebook/diary that connects the two storylines.

It is the notebook of an early 20th century bird artist, relatively unknown, mysteriously disappeared, and whose art is receiving 21st century attention. Also there’s a rare bird, identified by only three people. The existence of this bird becomes a quest for the contemporary characters. Interesting, but it’s very nearly buried under the more important concerns of this book. There are many, many birds in this book. They appear in unusually large numbers. They appear in unlikely places. In some way the birds are symbolic, a bit magical.

This book features two of my favorite things; the visual arts and ornithology. An aspiring artist in one timeline investigates the mystery of Laila Z, the bird artist of the previous century. The connection is there, but it matters little to the story. The presence of the ‘ghost’ mother was a believable element of magical realism, but the over abundance of birds in every situation became an unnecessary distraction. It felt overly contrived.

The real power of this book is Nadir’s coming of age story. It’s a painful journey through grief, financial stress, and racial discrimination. More than anything it’s a personal, very honest, coming out story. That would have been enough. ( )
  msjudy | Jul 2, 2022 |
This was a treasure of a read. The split narrative reminded me of a tapestry and the way the ornithological symbolism was woven throughout was lovely. There was so much depth to this novel that I know it will end up being a reread for me, maybe even later this year. ( )
  psalva | May 8, 2022 |
Not quite lyrical or mystical enough for me to stick with the glacial pace.

Why I picked it up: Stonewall Award winner.

Why I finished it: Didn't.

I'd give it to: Readers who connect more with the tenuous, interior lives of characters. The lost, haunted figures here are too elusive for me. ( )
  yarmando | Feb 14, 2021 |
The storyline pulled together so beautifully at the end that I totally forgive it for my occasional confusion. Following the lives of three generations of Syrian Americans living in New York City, this isn’t your typical immigrant story. It’s the story of how a community has changed as progress tore apart the old community, but more than that it’s the story of learning self-acceptance for who you are, whether or not you were born into the right sex. As I watched Nadir rebel against his female body and came to the slow realization that his grandmother also cared for a female although remaining traditionally female, I had my first realistic view of what life for people who are uncomfortable in the role society places on them. I struggled with the gender-neutral pronouns, but the more I was immersed in the story the more it became normal. And most of all I found Joukhader to be a compassionate, caring author in making characters come to life. ( )
  brangwinn | Nov 24, 2020 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 9 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
"Quietly lyrical and richly imaginative, Joukhadar’s tale shows how Laila and Nadir live and love and work past the shame in their lives through their art. This is a stirring portrait of an artist as a young man."
adicionada por jagraham684 | editarPublisher's Weekly (Mar 13, 2020)
 
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"From the author of the acclaimed and award-winning debut The Map of Salt and Stars, a remarkably moving and lyrical novel following three generations of Syrian Americans who are linked by the truths they carry close to their hearts. Five years after a suspicious fire killed his mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother's ghost has begun to visit him each evening. The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria. One night, he finds the tattered journal of a Syrian American artist named Laila Z. She famously and mysteriously disappeared more than sixty years before, but her journal contains proof that Laila Z's past is intimately tied to his mother's-and his grandmother's--in ways he never could have expected. Even more surprising, Laila Z's story reveals the histories of queer and transgender people within his community that he never knew. Following his mother's ghost, he uncovers the silences kept in the name of survival by his own community, his own family, and within himself, and discovers the family that was there all along. The Thirty Names of Night is an imaginative and intimate exploration of how we all search for and ultimately embrace who we are"--

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