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PORTS OF CALL by Amin Maalouf


by Amin Maalouf & translated by Alberto Manguel

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1999
ISBN: 1-86046-446-7

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.