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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction

Winner of the ALA Stonewall Book Award - Barbara Gittings Literature Award

Named Best Book of the Year by Bustle

Named Most Anticipated Book of the Year by The Millions, Electric Literature, and HuffPost

​​From the award-winning author of The Map of Salt and Stars, a new novel about three generations of Syrian Americans haunted by a mysterious species of bird and the truths they carry close to their hearts - a “vivid exploration of loss, art, queer and trans communities, and the persistence of history. Often tender, always engrossing, The Thirty Names of Night is a feat” (R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries).

Five years after a suspicious fire killed his ornithologist mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. As his grandmother’s sole caretaker, he spends his days cooped up in their apartment, avoiding his neighborhood masjid, his estranged sister, and even his best friend (who also happens to be his longtime crush). The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria, but he’s been struggling ever since his mother’s ghost began visiting him each evening.

One night, he enters the abandoned community house and finds the tattered journal of a Syrian American artist named Laila Z, who dedicated her career to painting birds. She mysteriously disappeared more than sixty years before, but her journal contains proof that both his mother and Laila Z encountered the same rare bird before their deaths. In fact, Laila Z’s past is intimately tied to his mother’s in ways he never could have expected. Even more surprising, Laila Z’s story reveals the histories of queer and transgender people within his own community that he never knew. Realizing that he isn’t and has never been alone, he has the courage to claim a new name: Nadir, an Arabic name meaning rare.

As unprecedented numbers of birds are mysteriously drawn to the New York City skies, Nadir enlists the help of his family and friends to unravel what happened to Laila Z and the rare bird his mother died trying to save. Following his mother’s ghost, he uncovers the silences kept in the name of survival by his own community, his own family, and within himself, and discovers the family that was there all along.

Featuring Zeyn Joukhadar’s signature “folkloric, lyrical, and emotionally intense...gorgeous and alive” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) storytelling, The Thirty Names of Night is a “stunning...vivid, visceral, and urgent” (Booklist, starred review) exploration of loss, memory, migration, and identity.

©2020 Zeyn Joukhadar (P)2020 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

Winner of the ALA Stonewall Book Award-Barbara Gittings Literature Award 

Named Best Book of the Year by Bustle

Named Most Anticipated Book of the Year by The Millions, Electric Literature, and HuffPost

Named Best Book of Fall by USA Today, PopSugar, Alma, and Goodreads

What listeners say about The Thirty Names of Night

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Might be easier to follow in print

I liked the book. The history of Syrian immigrants is very interesting. The love stories are nice. The generational stories are compelling. It was hard for me to keep track of where I was in time and which character was which in audible form.

4 people found this helpful

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Beautiful story with a beautiful ending.

This book meant a lot to me as a trans, Arab person, and the ending was absolutely beautiful.

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This book read me

Just finished one of my favorite books I've ever read. Feeling much more like I have been profoundly read by a book. When I tell you it made me weep...

There are so many vastly different experiences for people who have had a fraught relationship with the gender norms that surround them. So I can't say it will affect everyone in equal measure. But I highly recommend it to anyone who can relate to that struggle. And, perhaps equally important, to anyone who loves someone like that, yet doesn't *get it*.

People ask me all the time for educational materials about transgender and gender non-conforming experiences. I think they usually expect infographics, scientific texts, and neatly organized explanations. But some of the best ways to pursue understanding are a little messier and a little more personal. And sometimes storytelling is closer to truth than a collection of facts.

Hell, besides the other stuff in this post, maybe you just want to read a good book. This is a Good Book. But this is especially for anyone who, because of that beautiful inability to conform, struggles to be 'seen', and anyone else with love enough to want to 'see', here is one such story.

(Also, the choice of narrator, Samy Figaredo, made the story even more powerful. I had to look them up because they read with so much...realization. I don’t know how else to say it. That representation matters so much.)

2 people found this helpful

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A second great book

Zeyn has done it again. A second thought provoking and inspiring book. I loved the deep focus on the issues of race, gender, sexuality, and family. While not quite as entertaining as their first book, still a great read.