Ali und Nino.

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Ali and Nino, or whatever is left of them

The Return of the Discontinued Man. The Harem Midwife. A Christmas to Remember. Mistress of the Sea. The Amateur Marriage. The Juliet Code. The fact that he wrote this on the eve of yet another world war is even more poignant. It gives a visceral picture of the history, culture and every day life of the area at the time, and more than that deals with the larger conflicts that still plague the region today. And not only the region- elsewhere in the world as well. The story of the author ties in to the theme of this work.

As fascinating as the novel, really. There is evidence, actually, that the Austrian baroness he became friends with in the s deserves co-authorship of this book- it is certainly based on his interactions with her, as is the other novel published under his name, The Girl From the Golden Horn. Reading this, I often had to remind myself that it was written in All of these things are still immediately important now- East v.

View all 16 comments. It explores the dilemmas created by "European" rule over an "Oriental" society and presents a tableau portrait of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, during the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic period that preceded the long era of Soviet rule. It was published under the pseudonym Kurban Said. The novel has been published in more than 30 languages, with more than editions or reprints. The book was first published in Vienna in German in This classic story of romance and adventure has been compared to Dr. Its mysterious author was recently the subject of a feature article in the New Yorker, which has inspired a forthcoming biography.

Ali and Nino is Kurban Said's masterpiece. View all 6 comments. Read on the WondrousBooks blog. This book is widely compared to Romeo and Juliet and even Dr. Zhivago and advertised as one of the best love stories of the last century. But in my opinion it is much more than just a love story. Many may decide to contradict me, but I will explain below. Due to the fact that I found much more depth to Ali and Nino than just the star-crossed-lovers theme, I showed some generosity with the rating, ev Read on the WondrousBooks blog.

Due to the fact that I found much more depth to Ali and Nino than just the star-crossed-lovers theme, I showed some generosity with the rating, even though the narrative and writing weren't so much to my taste. Another note that I would like to make is that I usually review books in the language I read them, in this case - Azerbaijani, but there are some things about Azerbaijan that I would like to say here and which I hope will reach my western friends. I'm also very excited about the movie which, I think, is currently filming.

Ali and Nino does start out as a romance. What is beautiful about their love at the beginning is how uncomplicated it is. They love each other and that is that. Their families accept it, their friends accept it, society accepts it. Despite of religion, culture and personal beliefs, the simple fact exists that Ali and Nino are in love. With the development of the plot, however, we witness a completely other side of this story. The childish romance between the characters becomes stained with blood after Nino is kidnapped by another man and by the laws of honor killing, Ali can take her life for it.

He doesn't - out of love, out of honor? After Ali flees Baku he spends a very long time away from Nino. A narrative about Nino's actions after he leaves show a much darker shade of her personality.

Ali and Nino

She is no longer the dear child he dreams of, but instead a girl who only dances with the Russian boys at balls and has a dog she regularly beats in public. The rest of their relationship develops in a whirlwind of events, in the middle of which we see its many sides. Love is such a small part of it - there is passion, hate, tenderness, honor, stubbornness, shame, helplessness, belief, anger and so much more.

Page after page we are shown not only the character's personalities on their own, but also how they change when they are together and also due to the unfolding events in Azerbaijan. So is this love? And if so, what is love? Is it the simple fact that your world is someone else? Or should love be looked for in the not-so-beautiful reality of being with someone for many reasons and not just childish romance?

Maybe it's the latter. I am just going to leave this here. The quote is my own translation, so forgive me if it doesn't do justice to the original. With one foot their are standing in Asia, proud, beautifully wild, owners of ancient traditions and a religion which at that period has no place in the West. And then, with their other foot, they are tiptoeing on Europe, their culture is changing and developing, both thanks to their geographical location and due to the fact that they have such a painfully strong relationship with Russia.

Of course it is confusing - from the way they should treat their women, to the questions which are posed many times in the book: Should we keep our tradition to eat with hands or instead eat with knives and forks? Should we drink wine, like the western people, or should we follow the Islamic rule of abstaining from it?

And what about pork then? And yet, Azerbaijan is the first Muslim country to grant the women the right to vote and it did earlier than Austria and Germany , France and much earlier than Portugal There are many more to be added to this list, but I think you got the point that I'm making. Azerbaijan is also the first Muslim country to have operas and theaters, for that matter.

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Why am I getting into this? Because there are certain countries we don't know all that much about and with the help of Ali and Nino you can learn not only how developed Azerbaijan was even at the beginning of last century not even going to talk about today, Google it and see for yourselves , but also how they came to be like that and what struggles they went through to get there. Not even close. View all 12 comments. Nov 25, Chrissie rated it it was amazing Recommended to Chrissie by: Inder. Shelves: hf , azerbaijan , georgia , soviet-union , text-checked , iran , favorites. I simply adored it.

Probably the best book I will read this year!!! Of course it is a love story, but so much more too. It is a love story between a Georgian Christian girl and a Mulim boy from an historically famous family from Azebaijan. Their love explores how dramatically different cultures can be blended given the right circumstances - in this case true love. West meets East in this novel.

"Ali and Nino" Soundtrack - Main Theme

You explore both ways of looking at life. The author was born a Jew, but became a Muslim. This makes his description of Eastern customs all the more vivid because he loved them and chose to follow these principles. Eastern culture is magnificently rendered. Muslim ideology, Sunni versus Shiite differences, Ottoman and Persian and Georgian beliefs - all are vividly depicted through legends and customs. How both Ali and Nino are portrayed is so amazing because you understand how these two who love each other STILL see everything so completely differently. It is beautiful to see how they compromise for each other.

And it is horrible to see when there is no possible compromise. The reader gets both a familiar and an exotic world laid out before them. You read about blood feuds, camels, the landscape and the history of Azerbaijan and much much more. I simply cannot do this book justice. I wanted to quote dozens of paragraphs, but I simply couldn't choose one. On every single page ideas are beautifully expressed.

If you do not believe me - well just pick a page number and I will quote a bit to show you Every single page has the reader thinking WOW or pondering a particular thought or way of looking at life. Much of what happened in his own life is reflected int this novel. View all 13 comments. Dec 04, Inder rated it it was amazing Shelves: culture , 20th-century , fiction , read , russia , mid-east. I devoured this in one day, on a plane flight back from Maui. This is a book about a certain place and moment in time, but the love story is timeless. Ali Khan, a muslim boy, loves Nino, a Georgian Christian girl.

Somehow, their love survives their cultural differences, family hostilities, blood feuds, and never-ending war. By the end of the book, I knew more than I ever imagined about the I devoured this in one day, on a plane flight back from Maui. By the end of the book, I knew more than I ever imagined about the early 20th century history of the Caucasus and Persia. But it's the love story that kept me turning the pages. A beautiful little book, I highly recommend it. View all 3 comments.

Apr 17, Katia N rated it really liked it. Ali and Nino would be a quite convential written love story apart from a few facts. Firstly, the book is set in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, oil-reach trans-Caucasian country which many people would not be able place on the map. The time frame is the turbulent beginning of the last century, the first oil boom, the Russian revolution, the Young Turks and the fall of Osman empire are just a few cataclysms affecting the region. Secondly, the author of the book is unknown. The book is written fr Ali and Nino would be a quite convential written love story apart from a few facts.

The book is written from the perspective of Ali, the young and rich Muslim Prince. But the most likely author is a Jewish exile in Europe Lev Nisselbaum who has converted into Islam during his time in Germany and was known there as Essad-Bey. And lastly, the book was first published in in Germany - very unusual place and time for such a novel. I would recommend to read this book if you are interested in the atmosphere and the history of the place.

The book is brilliant in describing the Caucasian region at the beginning of the last century.


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I could not stop but feeling that the destiny of Caucasus falling under the Soviet rule was not inevitable at all. Instead it was the one of the cruel cards served to the region in geopolitical games between the big powers. Obviously a bit idealised, but Baku is described as a cosmopolitan vibrant rich city where Muslims, Christians and foreigners live together in a relative piece.

It was the fringe of the Russian Empire before the revolution.

Ali and Nino - The Statue of Love in Batumi

However, strong case for the independence of the region really existed when the Empire has started to crumble. Apart from Azerbaijan the main characters take us to Iran, Georgia and Dagestan. The sense of place is always vivid: Georgian hospitality, Persian sleepiness at the time, the simple life with the elements in a mountain village in Dagestan.

One can learn a lot of history in this slim novel. The main character is in love with the Georgian girl who is obviously Christian, cosmopolitan and does not want to compromise her identity beyond a certain measure. She, for example refuses, to cover her face. He, on the other hand, is trying to understand better where are the limits of his faith. This is very ancient enigmatic region. Armenia and Georgia existed well before any concept of Europe. There predated the Byzantine Empire as well and were the ones of the first places in the world adopting Christianity.

Azerbaijan was the part of Persia, I believe. That is why they are Shiite Muslims.

The book and the stories within it have resonated with me on personal level. It reminded me the well forgotten trip of my youth. The one of my first ever trips in fact.


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  • When I was 16, the group from my school, has travelled on the train from Kiev to Baku. The train journey took 70 hours one way. But before we arrived, we experienced a lot of cultural shocks. The group contained around 6 girls. On the last day of our journey, two things happened. First, we have seen the desert and proper caravan of camels travelling behind the windows of the train.

    I had an impression the caravan was going quicker than we. Secondly, our group leader, the young man of around 25 was approached by the group of Azerbaijani looking men with the business offer to sell us 6 girls for a good price. Fortunately, we did not know what the men were talking about.

    But they look very amiable and smiling. Again, fortunately for us, our group leader has rejected their proposition saying he needs us for other things.

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    The simple word of our leader seemed to be more powerful than the legal aspect of the suggested proceedings. So we were left alone, at least for a time being. The city, when we arrived seemed empty, the powerful winds were blown alone the streets. So when Baku was mentioned as a city of winds in the novel, it brought back a vivid memory.

    We did not venture far enough without our sympathetic young local guide. But he took us into very weird places like an illegal leather shop. It was the time when the shelves of the proper shops were totally empty anywhere in the disintegrating Soviet Union. So he probably wanted to please us. But we did not have money anyway. What was also striking how friendly the people were towards each other.

    One might stop a trolleybus anywhere by just raising a hand. It was the end pf I believe. We left and in a few months Baku has become a centre of the bloody events Baku's pogrom. I could not believe the news. The last time something similar took place was the time of Ali and Nino. Ok, back to the book. The life story of its alleged writer, Lev Nisselbaum was so dramatic that it was become the subject of the book itself The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life.

    The american journalist Tom Reiss has followed the traces of Lev from Baku to Berlin and later to Italy were Lev died prematurely in There are certainly a lot of similarities. However, it contains a lot of interesting details about the cataclysms in the region and a moving love story. I personally was also grateful for the opportunity of re-living some moments of my year old self which the book has dogged out from my memory. View all 8 comments. Nov 21, Missy J rated it really liked it Shelves: books , europe-related , asia-related , historical-fiction , greater-middle-east , russia-related.

    He was stabbed on the day he came. Now the police are looking for Dadash Beg. But they won't find him, although everybody knows that he is in the village of Mardakjany. Wise men say Dadash Beg has done well. My book club i 'Dadash Beg has stabbed Achung Sade to death last week, because Achung Sade came back to town although he knew the danger, having kidnapped Dadash Beg's wife eight years ago. My book club is reading this while we are "visiting" Azerbaijan. Thanks to these books, I had some basic knowledge about the diversity of the region and a tiny little bit of historical background.

    If I hadn't, I would have been lost! As mentioned in the title, Ali and Nino is a love story.

    Table of Contents

    Ali is a Shiite Muslim Azerbaijani, who loves the desert and the sand. Nino is from an aristocratic Greek Orthodox family from Georgia. Here, in this unpretentious village in the mountains, their differences melt away and the two of them enjoy a few months of romantic bliss. Ali and Nino return to Baku briefly, but the war interrupts their lives once again when the Bolsheviks recapture Baku forcing Ali and Nino to flee to Persia.

    Nino is miserable and appalled by the Asian culture she is suddenly immersed in. Despite the happy news that she is expecting her first child, she becomes increasingly irritable. Nino is openly dismayed that she is confined to the harem, pestered by eunuchs, and pressured to wear a veil in public. Finally, Azerbaijan gains independence and Ali and Nino return to play a prominent role in the new democratic nation. To the casual reader, the momentous importance of this scene may not be fully recognized. However, it does dramatically capture the gravity and grandeur of the event.

    As the first modern, democratic and Muslim nation Azerbaijan reimagined reality and forged a new identity on the world stage. With the approaching birth of his first child as well as the birth of a new nation, Ali Khan finally merges his two great loves: family and country. For a brief time he and Nino eagerly serve together in the new regime building a brighter and better future for Azerbaijan. Nino even secures a prominent position for Ali at the consulate in Paris, but he refuses the position because he knows he will be as unhappy in Europe as Nino was in Persia.

    I love this town, the old wall and the mosques in the little alleys, and I would die away from the Orient, like a fish out of water, Ali says. The ending draws the whole story together in a brilliant and moving final sequence that you should definitely read for yourself. While the novel presents a robust and intriguing picture of the historical events of , the film is unable to fully develop the historical backdrop.

    The book offers the reader the gift of a more well rounded picture of the last desperate gasps of a dying republic and the devastation of a hope deferred. Those of us educated in the United States or in Europe have likely been taught a single uniform narrative about World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution. But history is made up of many voices telling their stories from diverse vantage points just as a weaver draws many different strands to weave a rich and beautiful carpet.

    Ali and Nino provides the Western reader with the unique opportunity to experience a well known phenomena in history from a completely fresh perspective and to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the unique history of Azerbaijan.


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