Book Review: 'Lifted By The Great Nothing,' Karim Dimechkie NPR's Alan Cheuse reviews a debut novel, Lifted by the Great Nothing, by Karim Dimechkie.
NPR logo

Book Review: 'Lifted By The Great Nothing,' Karim Dimechkie

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/411533505/411533506" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Book Review: 'Lifted By The Great Nothing,' Karim Dimechkie

Review

Book Reviews

Book Review: 'Lifted By The Great Nothing,' Karim Dimechkie

Book Review: 'Lifted By The Great Nothing,' Karim Dimechkie

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/411533505/411533506" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

NPR's Alan Cheuse reviews a debut novel, Lifted by the Great Nothing, by Karim Dimechkie.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Sometimes a book grips you from the moment you read the title. That's what happened when reviewer Alan Cheuse picked up the debut novel from Karim Dimechkie. It's called "Lifted By The Great Nothing."

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Here's a novel about a single father raising his teenage son in suburban New Jersey, both of them Beirut-born, and as the book opens, they're both trying to make their way in American life and culture. Turns out, though, that the father, Rasheed, or Reed as he's known to his neighbors, has a lot to hide from his son about past events in Lebanon before and during the Civil War. Son Max - born Hakeem we eventually learn - has a lot to hide from his father that has to do with coming-of-age in New Jersey. Father and son both have odd and at first inexplicable friendships - Reed with a local high school coach - a man - and with a co-worker, Kelly, a young woman at a warehouse job. She moves in with them for a while, and Max, who has a fixation on a woman who lives across the street, eventually makes friends and more with her. With all of this, the first part of the book skims along like some wacky, delightful dream - the father's BSing about life in Beirut; the son's discovery of sex.

When things turn for the worse and Max has a falling out with his father, he heads to Beirut to try to find his absent mother. And the book breaks open into a series of discoveries about his birth, his father, his Lebanese relatives and the nature of love and affection in wartime and in peace, in Lebanon and New Jersey. I never did figure out exactly what the title means - "Lifted By The Great Nothing." The family truth the father tries to hide, the discoveries of young manhood son Max seeks to find - there's just so much of everything going on in these pages that captured my attention completely in this charming novel about function and dysfunction, giving and loving, so much that made me wonder, made me laugh.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The book is "Lifted By The Great Nothing" by Karim Dimechkie. Our reviewer is Alan Cheuse.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.