Megan Harlan
October 22, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Ali and Nino

Current Status
In Season
Kurban Said
Historical Fiction, Romance, Fiction

We gave it an A

This love story by the pseudonymous Said (whose real identity remains a mystery) was originally published in 1937, out of print for decades, and then rediscovered. In the exotic cultural crossroads of Baku, an ancient desert city on the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan, narrator Ali, a Muslim Tatar aristocrat, describes his secret love affair with schoolmate Nino, a Georgian Christian princess. As WWI threatens the Caucasus region and the teens’ romance, the novel eloquently evokes the shifting relationships between East and West, Christian and Muslim, male and female. But it’s Ali and Nino’s heartbreaking attempt at marriage that renders the work a small, shimmering classic. A

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