The Blue Manuscript

The Blue Manuscript

by Sabiha Al Khemir
     
 

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The Blue Manuscript is the ultimate prize for any collector of Islamic treasures. But does it still exist, and if so, can it be found? In search of answers to these questions, an assortment of archaeologists heads for a remote area of Egypt, where they work with local villagers to excavate a promising site. Interspersed with the testimony of the early medieval

Overview

The Blue Manuscript is the ultimate prize for any collector of Islamic treasures. But does it still exist, and if so, can it be found? In search of answers to these questions, an assortment of archaeologists heads for a remote area of Egypt, where they work with local villagers to excavate a promising site. Interspersed with the testimony of the early medieval calligrapher who created the Blue Manuscript, Sabiha Al Khemir’s subtle, graceful narrative builds into a rich tapestry of love, hope, despair, greed, fear and betrayal. Intensified at every turn by the uneasy relationship between Islam past and present, and between Islam and the West, The Blue Manuscript is a novel which will resonate long after the astonishing solution to its mystery has finally been revealed.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Tunisian art historian al Khemir's U.S. debut is a gorgeously written exploration of what it means to collect ancient relics and reinterpret them through a lens clouded by culture, religion, and time. Set in Wadi Hassoun, a small village outside of Cairo, the novel tracks the work of an international team of archaeologists who've been commissioned by wealthy London financiers to unearth a holy Islamic text called the Blue Manuscript. A copy of the book found decades earlier proved so valuable that its pages were separated and sold individually for a small fortune. Is this greed or simply good business? Because other artifacts uncovered in the search-like glass shards and pottery-will be disbursed to museums, team members express few qualms about digging up burial grounds and other sacred spaces. The villagers are less sanguine, and al Khemir uses the team's mixed-race, Arabic translator to question how belief systems shape identity and vocational choices. The author's pithy and wise observations are rooted in contemporary sociopolitical realities and make this an exceptionally complex, engrossing, and poignant story. Highly recommended for all fiction collections.
—Eleanor J. Bader

From the Publisher
“A strange and engrossing cross-cultural fable ... novels, archaeological excavation has become a metaphor for the uncovering of unpleasant truths.”—Robert Irwin, novelist, Middle East Editor of the Times Literary Supplement

“A remarkable novel, skilfully and imaginatively weaving history and human lives across time and continents.”—The Guardian

“Al Khemir seduces readers with the manuscript’s mythical beauty and the philosophy of its art form.”—The Independent

“It positively teems with colours, sounds, scents and languages...The Blue Manuscript could hardly be more timely and apposite.”—Charles Palliser, author of The Quincunx

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781844673087
Publisher:
Verso Books
Publication date:
11/03/2008
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Sabiha Al Khemir was born in Tunisia. She is an author, illustrator and Islamic art historian. Her publications span fiction, cultural essays, art history and book illustration. She has also written and presented television documentaries, and was the founding director of the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar.

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