Accused of mocking the inviolate codes of Islam, the Persian poet and sage Omar Khayyam fortuitously finds sympathy with the very man who is to judge his alleged crimes. Recognising genuis, the judge decides to spare him and gives him instead a small, blank book, encouraging him to confine his thoughts to it alone. Thus beginds the seamless blend of fact and fiction that is Samarkand. Vividly re-creating the history of the manuscript of the Rubaiyaat of Omar Khayyam, Amin Maalouf spans continents and centuries with breathtaking vision: the dusky exoticism of 11th-century Persia, with its poetesses and assassins; the same country's struggles nine hundred years later, seen through the eyes of an American academic obsessed with finding the original manuscript; and the fated maiden voyage of the Titanic, whose tragedy led to the Rubaiyaat's final resting place - all are brought to life with keen assurance by this gifted and award-winning writer.
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(196mm x 126mm x 20mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
Lebanese-born Maalouf, a respected journalist who now lives and writes in France, won the 1993 Goncourt Prize for a previous novel and was awarded the Prix des Maisons de la Presse for this one, a rich historical romance that recounts the adventurous life of 11th-century Persian poet Omar Khayyam and the subsequent fate of the much-prized manuscript of his famous poem The Rubaiyaat. In a fast-moving narrative that exudes a distinct Arabian Nights flavor, Maalouf explores the intertwined fates of three protagonists: the embattled Omar, the crafty vizier who means to appropriate the poet's talents, and the enigmatic leader of the infamous Order of the Assassins, who has his own dark designs on Omar's masterpiece. Nor does the story end there, for we continue to trace the manuscript's peregrinations, until it is eventually secured by an American scholar who takes it with him aboard a certain luxury liner for an ocean crossing in the year 1912. Mysteries and their solutions are deployed with masterly authority in this accomplished novel by one of the best European writers to have emerged in the last decade. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Amin Maalouf
Amin Maalouf is a Lebanese journalist and writer. He has served as a director of the weekly international edition of the leading Beirut dail an-Nahar, and editor in chief of Jeune Afrique. He lives in Paris with his wife and three children.