But this year’s improbably charming book about hackers is “Alif the Unseen,” a novel prompted by its author’s frustration. G. Willow Wilson, admired for her graphic novels and memoir, says that she was sick of treating her readers as separate factions (“comic-book geeks, literary NPR types and Muslims”) and sick of assumptions that blogging and social media could not have political consequences.
So she conjured Alif, a young Arab-Indian hacker living in an unnamed Middle Eastern high-security state. Alif falls for Ms. Right on the Web, meets her in real life (“in an instant he forgot all his mental projections of Lebanese pop stars and Egyptian movie actresses”), gets into trouble with the authorities, taps into the secrets of a genie and stirs up a bookload of wizardry and glee. For all its spirited fun, this book incorporates the violence that spills off the Web and into Tahrir Square.