The author of The Map of Salt and Stars returns with a novel following three generations of Syrian Americans who are linked by a mysterious species of bird and the truths they carry close to their hearts.
The author, a Syrian-American who previously published under a different name and has since transitioned to male, embellishes his novel with tinges of magic realism and beautifully rendered descriptions of birds flitting in and out of characters’ lives. Despite a languid pace and a transparent substitution of story lines for plot, The Thirty Names of Night stands out for its lyrical quality, its filmic peek into the early-20th-century Syro-Lebanese communities of Manhattan and Dearborn, Mich., and a contemporary protagonist whose self-abnegation stems from an unrelenting sense of bodily imprisonment.
... an intimate, intergenerational saga centered on a trans artist in search of himself, his community and answers to the questions his mother left behind ... This is a story about community, how constructed systems of power work to destroy queer and trans people of color and the immigrant community at the root, as well as resilience, even though it should not be necessary just to survive. How found family is a lifesaving thing, a freeing remaking that allows for the multitudes of shifting truths we can hold ... explores the possibilities of masculinity outside of white cisheteronormativity, that lives inside the contradiction of, when at last presented with another person who shares at least some of his experiences with gender, 'I think to myself, It is terrifying to be visible, and then I think, I have been waiting all my life to be seen.' And that’s what this masterpiece of a book will do for so many readers ... Every single page of this novel is incandescent in its precise, propulsive beauty. Lyric, poetic and deeply wise, The Thirty Names of Night is a radiant work of fiction that feels like an outright act of healing. Joukhadar weaves an intimate story across generations, and he ties them together in a way that’s both viscerally satisfying and openly enchanting. This is a love letter to a queer and trans community, Syrian American immigrants, the act of art and of naming oneself, and our place in the world, among other migratory creatures. Joukhadar gives us unapologetically queer and trans immigrant catharsis in the wake of unimaginable destruction and grief ... Powerful, poignant and deliberately hopeful, its far-reaching impact makes The Thirty Names of Night a modern classic that is sure to dazzle readers for a long time. But I also can’t imagine a book that I needed more this particular year. It is one of my all-time favorite novels.
... Joukhadar’s poetic writing presents a world where the boy finds traces of his mother in everything, whether she appears as an apparition or just a faint whiff of thyme. He clings to her memory as he struggles to come to terms with his identity—and Joukhadar gives us a vivid portrait of what the loss of a loved one can leave behind ... Standing at the crossroads of art, history, queerness, and community, The Thirty Names of Night presents two engrossing narratives whose convergence is astounding and heartbreaking in turn. Joukhadar writes with intricacy and care, and the dual narratives parallel each other in beautiful and unexpected ways in this culturally and linguistically rich novel.