ISLAM QUINTET II
The Book Of Saladin
5.5 x 7.5 inches, 367pp. 1998
ISBN : 9788170462965
Rs 325.00 (PB)
Tariq Ali’s latest novel is a rich and teeming chronicle set in twelfth-century Cairo, Damascus and Jerusalem. The Book of Saladin is the fictional memoir of Saladin, the Kurdish liberator of Jerusalem, as dictated to a Jewish scribe, Ibn Yakub. Saladin grants Ibn Yakub permission to talk to his wife and retainers so that he might portray a complete picture of him in his memoirs. A series of interconnected stories follow, tales brimming over with warmth, earthy humour and passions in which ideals clash with realities and dreams are confounded by desires. At the heart of the novel is an affecting love affair between the Sultan’s favoured wife, Jamila, and the beautiful Halima, a later addition to the harem.The novel charts the rise of Saladin as Sultan of Egypt and Syria and follows him as he prepares, in alliance with his Jewish and Christian subjects, to take Jerusalem back from the Crusaders. It is a medieval story, but much of it will be cannily familiar to those who follow events in contemporary Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad. Betrayed hopes, disillusioned soldiers and unreliable alliances form the backdrop to The Book of Saladin.
This is the second of a planned quartet of historical novels depicting the confrontation between Islamic and Christian civilisations. The first, Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, recounted the story of the fall of Islam in Spain.Grippingly told, brilliantly paced, remarkably convincing in his historical depiction of a fateful relationship, it is a narrative of our time, haunted by distant events and characters who are closer to us than we dreamed.—Edward W Said
Fiercely lyrical. Weaving political intrigue, gay and straight love, betrayal, cross-dressing, rape, assassination and crimes of passion, Ali’s tale ripples with implicit parallels to our age.—Publishers Weekly
Tariq Ali is a writer, critic and film-maker. He has written over a dozen books on world history and politics as well as scripts for both stage and screen. The first novel of his Islam Quartet, Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, has been translated into several languages and was awarded the Archbishop San Clemente del Instituto Rosalia de Castro Prize for the best foreign language fiction published in Spain in 1994. The third, The Stone Woman was published by Verso in 2000.