30 January 2006

"Ali and Nino" by Kurban Said and Tom Reiss "The Orientalist"

For some people the marvellous romantic novel about the lovestory between Ali and Nino by Kurban Said is a much better introduction into the cultures, mentalities and complicated histories of the Caucasus countries than any Travel Guide Book. On the eve of the Soviet Revolution in the oil-booming capital Baku of Azerbaijan at the Caspian Sea the love between a Muslim boy and a Christian Girl from Georgian origin captivated lots of readers worldwide. Much speculation surrounded the real identity of the author of this great story behind the pseudonym "Kurban Said". Tom Reiss went on a search over four years to discover, that the real identity behind Kurban Said was the Jew Lev Nussimbaum, who turned himself into a celebrated exotic Muslim Prince "Essad Bey" in Germany and Austria in the 20s and 30s. Reiss' book "The Orientalist" is like a sharp mirror of the haunting history both of the multicultural live in the South Caucasus and of the Boheme circles in Pre-WWII- Germany and Austria, and of the almost forgotten turbulent life of the great author Lev Nussimbaum.

1 comment:

josh narins said...

I think the best time to read such books is on the plane over.

I read "A Fortunate Life" by Facey on the plane over to western Australia.

I don't know if I'll ever get to the Caucasus, but I hope I remember what to read.