Just Wanna Know

Revolutionary Propaganda Organ

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Reading now...

Right now I just started reading The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh. The only other book of his I've read is In An Antique Land. Apparently he's written a couple of other novels since then. I'm nearly done with Snow by Orhan Pamuk, which is great and beautiful and depressing and very bleak, so I had to take a break. I had recently read The Orientalist to prepare for a class, and the author, Tom Reiss, recommended in it that interested readers take a look at Ali and Nino, which is the most famous novel by Kurban Said, one of the alter egos of Reiss's subject in The Orientalist. Reiss establishes pretty conclusively that Kurban Said was one of the pen names of Lev Nussimbaum, a Jewish Azeri who emigrated to Berlin via Iran and Istanbul after the First World War. In Berlin points west, Nussimbaum assumed an Oriental identity and wrote under the name Essad Bey, and there's pretty good evidence that he actually converted to Islam before he died, poor and wretched, of a mysterious aging disease on the Amalfi coast of Mussolini's Italy, tended by a shadowy Libyan double agent...

So I read Ali and Nino and was really impressed--it's an unbelievably romantic love story of passion, politics, and religion set in Baku before and during the First World War. Ali is the son of an ancient Shi'ite noble family who falls in love with a beautiful Christian Georgian girl, but first he has to pursue her after she's kidnapped by a lusty, overweight Armenian millionaire in his car. Of course, Ali chases them across the mountains on a stunning golden horse.


At 7:45 PM, Blogger Rachel Schaefer said...

Hey John, is this the book you said I would like? The quick read? ;-) I'm sorry I missed you today.

At 7:58 AM, Blogger John Schaefer said...

Yes, Ali and Nino is a very quick read, fast paced with lots of dialogue.


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