Books by Amin Maalouf

HISTORY
Released: Oct. 1, 2011

"Eloquent and full of passion."
From a distinguished journalist and award-winning novelist, an extended essay with an urgent warning: The world is on the brink of disaster, and humanity must act now to avert it. Read full book review >
ORIGINS by Amin Maalouf
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 1, 2008

"A shimmering portrait of a clan molded by history and personal whim."
Expatriate Lebanese novelist Maalouf (Balthasar's Odyssey, 2002, etc.) explores the gap between family legend and family history. Read full book review >
BALTHASAR’S ODYSSEY by Amin Maalouf
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 1, 2002

"Splendid, sophisticated fun: Maalouf has a fine grasp of history and a natural's gift for narrative and adventure."
A clever picaresque from Maalouf (In the Name of Identity, 2001, etc.) takes us from the Middle East across all of Europe in search of an enchanted book. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

"A convincing thesis from a wise and civilized voice."
The latest attempt to explain the propensity of civilized nations to repeatedly engage in the massacre of their neighbors, a practice alternately known as genocide, race riots, ethnic cleansing, and, simply, mass murder. Read full book review >
PORTS OF CALL by Amin Maalouf
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 30, 1999

Ports Of Call ($24.00; Nov. 30; 197 pp.; 1-86046-446-7): The native Lebanese (now French) author of such exotic fiction as The Rock of Tanios (1994) and The Gardens of Light (p. 177) offers here the winsome (though strangely uninvolving) story of Turkish-Lebanese nobleman Ossyane Ketabdar's renunciation of both his father's revolutionary ardor and Clara, the Jewish woman whom their respective cultures, a world war, and the later (1948) Arab-Israeli War keep apart for many years, before a final bittersweet meeting seals their fates. Ossyane's recall of his thwarted life, recounted to Maalouf's sympathetic narrator, has several fine moments (especially when focused on his experiences, while living in Paris, with the Resistance). But, overall, both his pacifism and his passivity seem unfortunately generic, and his plight never fully engages our emotions. Read full book review >
THE GARDENS OF LIGHT by Amin Maalouf
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 1, 1999

A fine meditative historical novel from the internationally acclaimed Lebanese author of Samarkand (1996) and The Rock of Tanios (1994). This obviously scrupulously researched story focuses on the life, mission, and martyrdom of Mani, the third century a.d. prophet (of Manichaeanism) and mystic whose ethically centered philosophy featured a fusion of Buddhism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. The narrative is intermittently discursive, but Maalouf's sympathetic renderings of Mani's tribulations in his Persian homeland and in India, climaxing with his betrayal by the successor of an indulgent monarch, are suffused with a (nicely translated) dramatic lyricism that may remind many readers of the best work of the late Nikos Kazantzakis. Read full book review >
THE ROCK OF TANIOS by Amin Maalouf
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

Lebanese journalist and author Maalouf's (Leo Africanus, 1988, etc.) Goncourt Prizewinning historical romance is lyrical and poetic. Set in the Lebanese village of Kfaryabda, the novel skips merrily from the present into the late 19th century as an aged townsman tells his nephew the story of Lamia and Tanios. Lamia, the wife of an official in the court of the local potentate, is so beautiful that her pulchritude has become proverbial in the region, and the Sheikh becomes determined to have her. He seduces her, and Lamia bears a child. Despite the secrecy and brevity of their tryst, rumors begin to circulate in the court and in the village that the child is the Sheikh's. Tanios, the child, grows up with the best that can be provided, including an education at a foreign mission school. It is a period when Lebanon is the center of a great political game: Egypt and the Ottoman Empire contend against each other; France and Britain jockey for position; Islam and Christianity jostle; rebellion against the hierarchical political structure is brewing; and intrigue abounds. When Tanios's legal father (Lamia's husband) kills the Patriarch, the Christian leader of the village and a rival in the Sheikh's court, he and Tanios are forced to flee. Beginning their flight in terror and remorse, the two fugitives soon become embroiled in the machinations tearing the country apart. Eventually it becomes clear that only they can put a halt to the troubles, and they emerge as unlikely mediators in the diplomatic wrangling. The book's title derives from an unusual rock formation, resembling a great stone chair, that dominates the village. Local legend has it that Tanios, who has taken on mythic status, sat on the chair and was never seen again. Magical and compelling, the novel is the work of a master stylist, rendered in a subtle and supple translation. Read full book review >