We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

The Wrong End of the Telescope

On sale

5th May 2022

Price: £9.99

PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, 2022

Select a format

Selected: Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781472156129

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.


‘A beautiful, well paced, enraging, funny and heartbreaking book’ the Guardian

‘Spectacular . . . Alameddine’s irreverent prose evokes the old master storytellers from my own Middle Eastern home . . . deeply poignant’ New York Times

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. Soon, a boat crosses bringing Sumaiya, a fiercely resolute Syrian matriarch with terminal liver cancer. Determined to protect her children and husband at all costs, Sumaiya refuses to alert her family to her diagnosis. Bonded together by Sumaiya’s secret, a deep connection sparks between the two women, and as Mina prepares a course of treatment with the limited resources on hand, she confronts the circumstances of the migrants’ displacement, as well as her own constraints in helping them.

Not since the inimitable Aaliya of An Unnecessary Woman has Rabih Alameddine conjured such a winsome heroine to lead us to one of the most wrenching conflicts of our time. Cunningly weaving in stories of other refugees into Mina’s singular own, The Wrong End of the Telescope is a bedazzling tapestry of both tragic and amusing portraits of indomitable spirits facing this humanitarian crisis.

‘Alameddine hits a distinctly contemporary note with this new book about refugees . . . it feels totally authentic’ Sunday Times

What's Inside

Read More Read Less


Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers.
Rabih 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.
New York Times
Alameddine's spectacular novel is rendered through the refreshingly honest lens of Dr. Mina . . . Alameddine's irreverent prose evokes the old master storytellers from my own Middle Eastern home . . . deeply poignant
The Sunday Times
Alameddine hits a distinctly contemporary note with this new book about refugees . . . it feels totally authentic on Middle Eastern culture
The Guardian
'The Wrong End of the Telescope doesn't so much switch between emotional registers as occupy all of them at once - humour, grief, anger, melancholy, love of every stripe. It's a beautiful, well paced, enraging, funny and heartbreaking book'
John Green
'Devastating and wondrous. Nobody write like Rabih. Nobody gets anywhere close'
Eileen Myles, author of Afterglow and Chelsea Girls
The Wrong End of the Telescope is the best kind of prose. Lines break out like poetry and the story muscles on, telling. The setting is real history which I'm hungry for and Rabih Alameddine queers it handsomely with all kinds of love and a feeling that existence is pure experience, not language at all and the shape of this book, right up to the end, is a becoming.
Susan Stryker, Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution
The incomparable Rabih Alameddine's latest novel shows sly wit, poetic turns of phrase, and the slow-burning outrage at the ongoing Mediterranean refugee crisis--but I particularly love his understated handling of Mina, the novel's transgender narrator. Her identity is not a battlefield for the culture wars, just a refreshingly unproblematic perspective from which a story unfolds.
'I still can not understand why people do not jump up and down The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine. I loved this one so much that as soon as I finished it, I went and bought the entire Alameddine's backlist'
Financial Times
A pointed, poignant and often hilarious story...He has an ability to collect and create beauty, and to remain in a state of incandescent anger at politicians and what they have done with the world