The Thirty Names of Night

Zeyn Joukhadar. Atria, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-982121-49-5
Joukhadar’s evocative follow-up to The Map of Salt and Stars explores a 20-something Syrian-American trans man’s journey of self-discovery. The unnamed protagonist—he later goes by the name he gives himself, Nadir—is an aspiring artist in Brooklyn who likes to go out dancing with friends and enjoys listening to his friend Sami play the oud. Nadir lives with his grandmother, Teta, and is haunted by the death of his mother years ago in a fire. After Nadir finds a diary belonging to a Syrian artist named Laila, in an old tenement inhabited by Syrian-Americans, he becomes obsessed with finding the print of a rare bird by Laila. As the story unfolds, Nadir’s narration and direct addresses to his mother (“your presence is still here, everywhere, your hand on everything”) expands to include Laila’s voice (“The day I began to bleed was the day I met the woman who built the flying machine”) as Nadir blossoms into his trans identity. Scenes with Sami, with whom Nadir falls in love, are particularly affecting. 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. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 03/13/2020
Release date: 05/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-1182-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-1184-1
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