Comment: Reiss takes us on an intriguing search to uncover the true identity of the
author of the 1930's cult novel, Ali and Nino - Lev Nussimbaum, a Jew who
became a Muslim prince, who became a bestselling author in Nazi Germany.
Nussimbaum's life began in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, in 1905. Baku was
once the oil capital of the world - a place 'where Islam and the Orient were
filtered through a multicultural European lens'. When the Soviet's
took over Nussimbaum and his father fled for the Persian deserts, where
Nussimbaum lived the live of a nomad and converted to Islam. In the late
1920s he had become a bestselling author in Germany using the names Essad Bey
and Kurban Said, until he was forced to flee for Italy, where he died in
So why would you be interested in reading about an obscure author who died aged 33 nearly seventy years ago? ....
"In the hands of a less adept writer, such complex history might grow opaque and tedious, but Reiss' storytelling flair and the utterly compelling character of Lev Nussimbaum turn this biography into a page-turner of epic proportion." --- Booklist
"I greatly enjoyed Tom Reiss's The Orientalist, for its mingled scholarship and sleuthing, and for so elegantly solving the puzzle of one of the Twentieth Century's most mysterious writers." -- Paul Theroux
As always, you don't have to take anyone else's word for it - read a 10 page excerpt for yourself at BookBrowse.
This review is from the March 20, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.
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