Quotes from Alif the Unseen


Book: Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson

This was an interesting read: on magic and jinn, on cyberwarfare and oppressive governments, on religion and belief and stories.


“‘So the stories aren’t just stories, is what you’re saying. They’re really secret knowledge disguised as stories.’

‘One could say that of all stories, younger brother.'”

“Alif found himself succumbing to the silence of the place, a quiet so open and broad that it seemed almost to roar, as though it was not silence at all but music in some ancient inaudible key.”

“‘All translations are made up […] Languages are different for a reason. You can’t move ideas between them without losing something.'”

“‘A game has a reset button. You have infinite chances for success. Real life is awfully permanent compared to that, and a lot of religious people make it seem even more permanent—one step the wrong way, one sin too many, and it’s the fiery furnace for you.'”

“As he slipped deeper into sleep, he heard her begin to sing: a soft, wordless cat-song of love gone and children grown, trilling and sad.”

“Perhaps this was all freedom was—a moment in which all things were possible, overtaken too soon by man’s fearsome instinct to punish and divide.”

“‘Dear child, some stories have no morals. Sometimes darkness and madness are simply that.’

‘How terrible,’ said Farukhuaz.

‘Do you think so? I find it reassuring. It saves me from having to divine meaning in every sorrow that comes my way.'”

“‘Why do you get mad when religion tells you that the things you want to be true are true?’

‘When it’s true, it’s not fun anymore. All right? When it’s true it’s scary.'”

“‘You have that sullen expression young men get when they’ve been jilted. It’s why men are meant to have beards—growing all that hair leaves no energy for moodiness. Much more dignified.'”

“Anger is not always bad. Hatred and malice are always bad, but sometimes anger is the pure and determined light that shows you the way forward.”