The Angel of History
by Rabih Alameddine
Atlantic Monthly Press. 320 pages, $26.
THIS LITERARY, highly inventive novel spans decades, continents, religions, and cultures, all in the course of one night. It tells the story of Jacob, born in Yemen, raised in Egypt and Lebanon, and now becoming a gay poet in San Francisco, as he grapples with his past and (literally) confronts his demons.
The novel is divided into four sections. “At the Clinic” recounts Jacob’s adventure at a mental health clinic one night, as he seeks assistance for traumatic memories and issues that have begun to reassert themselves after years of normalcy. The most interesting of his symptoms is his conversations with Satan.