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23 March 2012

Brazen Review ~ One Hundred And One Nights: A Novel, Benjamin Buchholz

One Hundred and One Nights: A Novel
After 13 years in America, Abu Saheeh has returned to his native Iraq, a nation transformed by the American military presence. Alone in a new city, he has exactly what he wants: freedom from his past. Then he meets Layla, a whimsical fourteen-year-old girl who enchants him with her love of American pop culture. Enchanted by Layla's stories and her company, Abu Saheeh settles into the city's rhythm and begins rebuilding his life. But two sudden developments--his alliance with a powerful merchant and his employment of a hot-headed young assistant--reawaken painful memories, and not even Layla may be able to save Abu Saheeh from careening out of control and endangering all around them.

A breathtaking tale of friendship, love, and betrayal, One Hundred and One Nights is an unforgettable novel about the struggle for salvation and the power of family.
 
My Thoughts -
 
Abu Saheeh, so he is known, appears in the small border town of Safwan.  Under the patronage of a local Sheikh, Abu Saheeh sets up shop as a merchant, and so begin the nightly visitations of a young girl, Layla.  Poor and dirty, lively Layla reminds the troubled Saheeh of happier times, of unfullfilled dreams, of unmeted justice.  Quickly, the ominous shadow of tragedy taints Abu Saheed's every endeavor. 
 
Navigating the intricate relationships of Southern Iraq, old time tradition blending quietly, necessarily, with changing leadership, Saheeh balances strength with respect and seeks to fulfill his purpose while maintaining the illusion woven about his presence. 
 
Eerily poetic, One Hundred And One Nights held me captive through out Abu Saheeh's dark and perilous journey.  From resignation to acceptance, acceptance to hope, hope to despair, and despair to vengence, Saheeh embarks on an elusive path toward justice, a path he may never find.
 
I enjoyed this novel.  Buchholz crafted wonderful, fluid characters that shifted and changed as the story progressed, reshaping my ideas about them, my feelings toward them chapter by chapter until the climactic ending.  Fabulous!  I was disappointed with Buchholz' ambiguity about Saheeh's grasp on reality at the novel's conclusion and the existence or non-existence of Abd al-Rahim, who was an important pillar on which Saheeh's actions rested.
 
One Hundred And One Nights stands alone in my mind, apart from my regular reads, but I'm glad to have read it.  I've nothing to compare it to, no category in which to neatly tuck it away.  Love, hate, loyalty, and loss fueled Saheeh onward, and his story will linger in my thoughts.
 
Overall Story - ♣♣♣♣
 
Plot - ♣♣♣♣
Setting - ♣♣♣♣
Characters - ♣♣♣♣
 
 - MoĆ­ra ♣
 

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