The Thirty Names of Night summary

The Thirty Names of Night summary

The Thirty Names of Night summary by Zeyn Joukhadar  (Author)

Gaining the public adoration from his last book, Zeyn comes back with yet another remarkable novel that follows three generations of a Syrian American family whose encounters are characterized by a special bird.

As his mother was killed in a suspicious fire five years ago, a closeted trans boy forfeits his birth name and takes on a new one. The ghost of the mother comes to visit him every evening, making him unable to paint. Now, he is the only one taking care of his grandmother. Shut himself down from the outside world, the boy refuses to meet up with his neighbor, his sister, or even his bestie and long time crush. Only when the night has dawned itself can he be free by sneaking out and painting murals on Little Syria- the once-thriving neighborhood in Manhattan.

One night, on his nightly stroll, the boy goes into an abandoned community house and sees an old journal of a Syrian American artist. The journal is filled with adventures to paint North American birds. More than sixty years ago, the artist Laila Z disappeared mysteriously. The only clue seems to be in her diary, where it says that both Laila and the boy’s mother disappeared upon the encounter with a rare bird. There’s more similarity in the past of Laila Z and his mother to be just coincidence. Also from this journal, the boy learns that in his community, there are a lot of stories about trans and queer people. Seeing that he is not alone, he courageously takes on a new name: Nadir, meaning rare in Arabic.


Drenched with the magical and heart-throbbing writing tone of Zeyn, The thirty names of the night is the story about how each and every one of us seeks for identity and finally finds who we are.  

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Zeyn Joukhadar is the author of the novels The Map of Salt and Stars (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 2018) and The Thirty Names of Night (Atria/Simon & Schuster, 19 May 2020). He is a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI). His work has appeared in Salon, The Paris Review Daily, The Kenyon Review, The Saturday Evening Post, PANK Magazine, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net. The Map of Salt and Stars, currently being translated into sixteen languages, was a 2018 Middle East Book Award winner in Youth Literature, a 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist in Historical Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. Joukhadar has been an artist in residence at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California; the Fes Medina Project in Morocco; Beit al-Atlas in Beirut; and the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.


Most Anticipated.  The Millions

"Zeyn Joukhadar’s new book is 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

“Evocative and beautifully written, reading this is like opening a treasure trove of memories and images that shimmer both with light and the darkness of our times. It addresses important issues of migration, belonging, sexuality and love.” -- Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo

"Long after the story ended, I remain haunted by Zeyn Joukhadar’s novel, The Thirty Names of Night: part ghost story, part history, part art, all magic. Using gorgeous prose, Joukhadar deftly takes the reader on a journey of migration and belonging, explores the price of silence and of secrets, and tells an exquisite tale of family and love."




  -- Devi S. Laskar, author of The Atlas of Reds and Blues

The Thirty Names of Night crafts a gorgeous new subgenre of poetic-reality.  In Joukhadar's intensely atmospheric New York, the portal to a universe of information is not technology, but ornithology.  A lush, passionate eco-urban fable, and a truly glorious book.”  -- Jordy Rosenberg, author of Confessions of the Fox

"A fable of being and belonging....Joukhadar's prose style--folkloric, lyrical, and emotionally intense--creates its own atmosphere.  Gorgeous and alive.", Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Stunning...vivid, visceral, and urgent....This clarifying and moving tale has far-reaching significance and appeal.", Booklist, starred review

"Quietly lyrical and richly imaginative...this is a stirring portrait of an artist as a young man.", Publishers Weekly