Book Review: The Night Counter

I'm apparently in a phase of consuming writing rather than producing because I have yet another book review for you.

I never know how to pick a novel. A week ago I browsed the new fiction section of my local library branch and found myself attracted to a pretty blue cover, a title in an Arabic font and little stylized stars. What can I say? I’m still a designer at heart, I suppose. Anyway, after reading the flap summary, I decided I’d give the book a shot.

Having now finished, I can say that The Night Counter by Alia Yunis is a highly worthy read. The main character, Fatima Abdullah, is an 85 year old Arab American immigrant who spent the majority of her life in Detroit, Michigan. When we meet her, she is in Los Angeles where she has lived with her grandson for over three years and is visited nightly by the fabled Scheherazade. The story opens on the 992nd night of Scheherazade's visits and progresses through the 1,001st night when Fatima hopes to learn her own fate. Along the way, we learn about Fatima’s marriages, her childhood home in Lebanon and her offspring. As an added bonus, we sit in with two FBI agents eager to exercise The Patriot Act. The story is told third person yet the perspective varies slightly depending on the highlighted character.

As a woman, I can sympathize with Fatima’s joys and sacrifices in her life. As an white American, I was able to look through a different set of eyes at the American culture as well as the false assumptions and prejudices generalized to a whole group of people, especially since 9/11. And regardless of gender or ethnicity, I was reminded of the leaps of logic we make based on our own beliefs and outside influence.

I enjoyed the storytelling – both humorous and solemn. And as a student of the human condition, I appreciate the added perspective to my worldview. Now that I’m done with The Night Counter, I miss Fatima – and Scheherazade.