A Year in Reading: Rabih Alameddine

December 12, 2014 | 4 books mentioned

Picking one book as a favorite is both lovely and confounding: as silly as they are, I love lists and rankings; at the same time I always wonder what my criteria for choosing is — favorite based on what? Let alone, what day is it, what time, and would I pick the same in the afternoon?

coverTop of my list for last year were Daniel Alarcón’s At Night We Walk in Circles, Claire Vaye Watkins’s Battleborn, Cynthia Bond’s Ruby, Terrence Holt’s Internal Medicine — all incredible. My favorite at this exact instant, though is The Collected Poems of Zibgniew Herbert because, simply put, I think it just might be the best book I have read in — oh, I don’t know, maybe ever.

Instead of explaining why, I’ll just give you a sample from his poem ‘A Small Heart:’

so now I sit in solitude
on a sawed-off tree trunk
in the exact center point
of the forgotten battle
gray spider I spin
bitter meditations

on memory too large
and a heart too small

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is a painter and author. His novel The Hakawati was published by Alfred A. Knopf in May 2008 and was an international bestseller. His latest novel An Unnecessary Woman was published by Grove Atlantic in February 2014, and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

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