FICTION

Alif the Unseen

Grove. Jul. 2012. c.440p. ISBN 9780802120205. $25. F
COPY ISBN
OrangeReviewStarKnown for her award-winning memoir, The Butterfly Mosque, and her comics (Cairo; Air), Wilson instills imaginative storytelling in her debut novel set in the modern Middle East. Alif, a hacker by trade who provides systems security for the rich and poor alike, falls in love with a young woman from a privileged family. She is engaged to a member of the state police who is leading the hunt for the secret programming code Alif unwittingly created. Following the clues in an ancient manuscript titled The Thousand and One Days, Alif allies himself with his Muslim neighbor, an American convert, the sheikh of the local mosque, and an army of shapeshifting jinn to solve the code.
VERDICT Wilson skillfully weaves a story linking modern-day technologies and computer languages to the folklore and religion of the Middle East. For readers ready for adventure and looking for original storytelling, this excellent novel supersedes genres as easily as its characters jump from one reality to another. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/12.]

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