Shadows Of The Pomegranate Tree : Paperback – 8 Dec 1993
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"Tariq Ali captures the humanity and splendour of Muslim Spain ... an enthralling story, unravelled with thrift and verve. Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree is quizzical as well as honest, informative as well as enjoyable, real history as well as fiction ... a book to be relished and devoured." --"Independent"
"Tariq Ali tells us the story of the aftermath of the fall of Granada by narrating a family sage of those who tried to survive after the collapse of their world. Particularly deft at evoking what life must have been like for those doomed inhabitants, besieged on all sides by intolerant Christendom. This is a novel that have something to say, and says it well." --"Guardian"
"All human frailty and nobility is here ... an imaginative tour de force." --Sunday Telegraph
About the Author
Tariq Ali is a writer and filmmaker. He has written over a dozen books on world history and politics, as well as plays for both stage and screen. Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree is the first in a quartet of novels that trace the history of Islam. It has been translated into over a dozen languages and was awarded the Archbishop San Clemente del Insituto Rosalia de Castro Prize for the Best Foreign Language Fiction published in Spain in 1994. The other novels in this series, The Book of Saladin and The Stone Woman, are also available from Verso.
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The reactions vary, and are treated without judgement, in a style that is surprisingly plain and without hyperbole. In some ways it would be good to have a more vivid picture of this little-described age of Moorish Spain, but the clarity leaves the story to force itself through without being muddied. An enjoyable story that makes you seek out the sequels.
It clearly shows that Mr Ali was in Granada while writing this book. The geographic and historical places are accurately described and positioned.
The book tells the story of a muslim family in the reconquered Granada, faced with the three possibilites every muslim faced at the time: convert to christianism, leave the peninsula or die fighting. Different members of the family choose different paths and the drama is served. As a background to the dilemma they face, there are dark secrets in the family that we discover as we read. However, all this only takes place over 240 pages. The characters lack depth and events, family deaths and the unravelling of hidden secrets happen too quickly.
It is also worth mentioning that the author has his own agenda here, as it is his right given that it is his book. The one page epilgue bears no relationship to the whole story. It almost seems like a cheap jab at the cruelties commited by the Conquistadores in America.
To my mind, the book would have benefitted greatly by a more extended portrayal of characters and emotions. Granada post the reconquest was a unique melting pot of cultures at the hub of events that would shape Europe in the coming centuries, which is why I think the reader deserves more.
I love the humanity of all the characters, their flaws the fact that the practice of Islam centuries ago in Moorish Spain was about traditions and human desire too. I loved the female characters; Aunt Zara was my favorite because she was a rebel. What the heck happened to Tio Miguel at the end? I don't understand where he disappeared too. Very much liked the depictions of the Chrisitan side including evil monk Cisnero, the father of the Spanish Inquisition and the those KKK white hats!!!
It is a historical, epic, family saga and ultimately makes very clear how horribly Muslims and Jews were treated post the fall of Granada. The atrocities and humongous tragedy of what Muslims and Jews had to sacrifice are just way too painful to comprehend. It was a genocide we rarely talk about and something shamelessly ignored by many English-speaking historians. Wiped from the history books.
I am currently reading The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones and El Manuscrito Carmesi by Antonio Gala both Spanish writers who have not the wiped the history books with their Christendom version of Moorish Spain. There is a lot to be learned from this novel and parallels with today.
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