Recently I won a proof copy of Alif the Unseen by G Willow Wilson.
All I can say is WOW. What a book. G Willow Wilson has created a world that is at once contemporary and fantastical, a world in which the unseen world of the djinn (or genie) is as real as our own. The story is set in current day, somewhere in the Persian Gulf, where Alif is a young hacker protesting against the system in the only way he knows how – through his computer. Alif’s world is one in which his love for fellow hacker Intisar can never be realised, for she is a full-blooded Arab, and Alif with his part Indian heritage would never be an acceptable partner.
Intisar is soon engaged to a more suitable partner, equally-full-blooded Arab Abbas Al-Shebab and Alif is devastated, but as a parting gift Intisar sends Alif an ancient looking book – The Thousand and One Days. This book belongs to the djinn, it is their stories, their tales, stolen from them by a man many centuries earlier. As Alif begins the search to learn more about the book, and struggles to figure out why Intisar sent it to him a whole new world opens up – one so few of his people imagined real.
This book covers all the things we aren’t supposed to talk about in polite company – politics, religion and sex (though not so much of the latter). It gives an insight into life in the Arab world, the struggles of those who live there, and even more interesting – how they might view those of us living in the Western World.
A brilliant read – I highly recommend this book to others – it’s so different; philosophical, entertaining, clever! Read it!!