A gay poet is haunted by war and the AIDs crisis in this “sprawling fever dream of a novel” by the Dos Passos Prize-winning author of An Unnecessary Woman (NPR.org).
Set over the course of one night in the waiting room of a psych clinic, The Angel of History follows Yemeni-born poet Jacob as he revisits the events of his life. His memories take him from his maternal upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse to his adolescence under the aegis of his wealthy father and his life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco at the height of AIDS.
Haunted by an alluring, sassy Satan, who taunts Jacob to remember his painful past, and by dour, frigid Death, who urges him to forget and give up on life, Jacob is also attended to by fourteen saints. With Jacob recalling his life in Cairo, Beirut, Sana’a, Stockholm, and San Francisco, Alameddine gives us a charged philosophical portrayal of a brilliant mind in crisis. This is a profound story that “marks the triumph of memory over oblivion” (Bookforum).