Origins: Book summary and reviews of Origins by Amin Maalouf

Origins

A Memoir

by Amin Maalouf

Origins by Amin Maalouf X
Origins by Amin Maalouf
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  • Published in USA  May 2008
    416 pages
    Genre: Biographies/Memoirs

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Book Summary

Origins, by the world-renowned writer Amin Maalouf, is a sprawling, hemisphere-spanning, intergenerational saga. Set during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth - in the mountains of Lebanon and in Havana, Cuba - Origins recounts the family history of the generation of Maalouf’s paternal grandfather, Boutros Maalouf.

Maalouf sets out to discover the truth about why Boutros, a poet and educator in Lebanon, traveled across the globe to rescue his younger brother, Gabrayel, who had settled in Havana. What follows is the gripping excavation of a family’s hidden past. Maalouf is an energetic and amiable narrator, illuminating the more obscure corners of late Ottoman nationalism, the psychology of Lebanese sectarianism, and the dynamics of family quarrels. He moves with great agility across time and space, and across genres of writing. But he never loses track of his story’s central thread: his quest to lift the shadow of legend from his family’s past.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] sensitive if mildly overwritten memoir...for all his personal struggles, Maalouf never really manages to lift this book from mere family recollection to any larger cultural insight." - Publishers Weekly.

"A shimmering portrait of a clan molded by history and personal whim." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Amin Maalouf was a journalist in Lebanon until the civil war in 1975, when he left for Paris with his family. His work has been translated into more than forty languages, and his books have won prestigious prizes, including the Prix Goncourt.

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