Published March 17, 2022

Rabih Alameddine (The Wrong End of the Telescope) discusses his latest novel, a transporting new novel about an Arab American trans woman’s journey among Syrian refugees on Lesbos island. In conversation with Allison Wright.

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Mina Simpson, a Lebanese doctor, arrives at the infamous Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, Greece, after being urgently summoned for help by her friend who runs an NGO there. Alienated from her family except for her beloved brother, Mina has avoided being so close to her homeland for decades. But with a week off work and apart from her wife of thirty years, Mina hopes to accomplish something meaningful, among the abundance of Western volunteers who pose for selfies with beached dinghies and the camp’s children.

“Profound and wonderful… A wise, deeply moving story that can still locate humor in the pit of hell… A triumph.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Mina is a riveting narrator, struggling to find her footing even when the weight of her identity is crushing… A kaleidoscopic view of the many facets of the refugee crisis.”—Booklist

“Alameddine is a master of both the intimate and the global—and The Wrong End of the Telescope finds him at the top of his craft. A story of rescue, identity, deracination, and connection, this novel is timely and urgent and a lot of fun.”—Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers

The Wrong End of the Telescope is a peculiar novel, intentionally—a prismatic, sui generis story that’s unafraid of humor while addressing a humanitarian crisis, threading a needle between that urge to witness and the recognition that doing so may be pointless.”—Los Angeles Times


Virginia Festival of the Book staff, volunteers, partners, and attendees appreciate all of our sponsors. It is their crucial support, along with individual donors, that allows us to present the 2022 Virginia Festival of the Book almost completely free of charge. We appreciate the generous commitment from our Premier Sponsor, The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, and these major sponsors: Michelle and David Baldacci, Dominion Energy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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We appreciate the support of our community partner for helping share information about this event: UVA LGBT Committee for Faculty and Staff

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