Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran and Oscar and the Lady in Pink: Two Novellas

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Set in the 1960s in Paris' Jewish quarter, Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran is about a troubled Jewish boy, Moses, or Momo, who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a solitary Muslim shopkeeper named Monsieur Ibrahim. Momo's hilarious yet heart-wrenching story begins when he loses his virginity in a bordello at the age of 11. Ibrahim offers Momo his ear and advice and gradually teaches the precocious boy that there is more to life than whores and stealing groceries. When Momo's father, a ...
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Overview

Set in the 1960s in Paris' Jewish quarter, Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran is about a troubled Jewish boy, Moses, or Momo, who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a solitary Muslim shopkeeper named Monsieur Ibrahim. Momo's hilarious yet heart-wrenching story begins when he loses his virginity in a bordello at the age of 11. Ibrahim offers Momo his ear and advice and gradually teaches the precocious boy that there is more to life than whores and stealing groceries. When Momo's father, a passive-aggressive lawyer who neglects his son's well being, disappears and is found dead, Ibrahim adopts the orphaned boy. The two decide to make a trip across Europe to the birthplace of Monsieur Ibrahim that brings them to the most important crossroads of their lives. As this deeply funny and exquisitely crafted plot unravels, it reveals how we learn the most essential lessons of life and death when we expect them the least.

Oscar and the Lady in Pink gives us an entirely different tale of love and courage. Oscar is ten years old and dying of leukemia. He knows that his bone marrow transplant has failed, but the only person in the hospital who will talk to him about dying is his beloved Mamie-Rose, an elderly volunteer who visits the sick children. When it becomes clear that Oscar's time is growing short, Mamie-Rose gives him an idea: he should pretend that every day he lives represents the passage of ten years, and at the end of each day he should write down his experiences as a letter to God so that he might feel less alone. With Mamie-Rose as his guide, Oscar begins an uplifting journey through days made fuller by the richness of his imagination and spirit.

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt has given us two illuminating tales about suffering, love, compassion, and faith in both God and humanity. These stories are guaranteed to make readers laugh, cry, and stop to reflect on the grace and wonder that can be found in every heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Those who believe that America has had an undue influence on France need look no further for evidence than the two short novellas collected here. Schmitt, a French writer making his English-language debut, has produced stories with the arc and tone of Hollywood tearjerkers. In the title novella, a Muslim shopkeeper befriends a lonely Jewish boy named Moses, aka Momo. Momo's mother vanished when he was young, and his father, a failed lawyer, stays around only long enough to tease Momo with stories of Popol, his supposedly perfect older brother. Ibrahim, the shopkeeper, takes Momo under his wing, instructing him about life, love and the old ways of a country he's left behind. Schmitt, an accomplished playwright, is clearly accustomed to having actors fill in the blanks in his work, because without them the characters remain as thin as cardboard, vague sketches of well-meaning intercultural understanding. The second novella, "Oscar and the Lady in Pink," repeats the tale of an abandoned boy and a surrogate parent, this time set in a hospital ward. Ten-year-old Oscar, a cancer patient known as the Bald Egg, turns to an elderly hospital volunteer named Mamie-Rose for comfort. As Oscar moves toward his inevitable end, he tries to build relationships, though fleeting, with those around him. While some of the scenes between Oscar and his fellow child-patients are genuinely moving, the overall conceit-the story is told in the form of letters to God-is so sentimental that it crushes the more subtle elements. (Feb.) Forecast: This is a movie tie-in-the film version of the title story (starring Omar Sharif) will be released in February by Sony Pictures Classic-and will likely have little life independent of the film. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Written by an often-performed contemporary French playwright (The Visitor) and novelist (The Alternative Hypothesis), these two novellas share two traits. Each is composed in the first person, and in each a young boy, on the precipice of manhood, gains a friend and mentor in an older person. From there, however, the novellas differ widely in content and tone, with "Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran" (due for release as a motion picture in winter 2004) the more worldly story. In 1960s Paris, a young Jewish boy named Moses cavorts with prostitutes and begins a friendship with an Arab grocer, Monsieur Ibrahim, who is reputed to be a sage. Despite a rushed conclusion, the narrative ably conveys how these two people help and understand each other. "Oscar and the Pink Lady" concerns a dying boy who resides in a children's hospital ward. Oscar's irreverence and contempt toward his parents and doctor gradually soften as he grows closer to a refreshing older woman volunteer, Mamie Rose. These novellas are slyly sprinkled with nuggets of wisdom about life, loss, suffering, hope, redemption, and unexpected affection. Recommended for all library fiction collections.-Maureen Neville, Trenton P.L., NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590510919
  • Publisher: Other Press, LLC
  • Publication date: 2/15/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 5.21 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's bestselling novels and plays have been produced in 35 countries. The stage adaptation of Oscar and the Lady in Pink, starring Danielle Darrieux, is an enormous success in Paris, and Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran has been made into a motion picture starring Omar Sharif.

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