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.
|Product dimensions:||5.06(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)|
About 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Blue Manuscript based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
"'What you hide digs a hole inside you.'"Sabiha Al Khemir's first American novel (after her British only Waiting in the Future for the Past to Come) explores the myth of The Blue Manuscript. Based on an actual Islamic piece of art, Al Khemir's novel explores a "what-if" situation with a team of mismatched archaeologists, translators, professors, scientists, and tour guides who travel to Egypt to uncover it. As the team dig, not only is dirt removed, but also the character's true selves are slowly unearthed.The key word here is slowly.While the characters clash, each one is revealed as something sad, lost, yet redeemable (to certain extents) through their search for the artifacts. There's Zohra, a translator lost between two worlds; Glasses, who doesn't reveal his real name, too ashamed of his ethnicity; there's Professor O'Brien who is filled with ambition to prove his theory right; there's Mark who's anxious only for the money. As the novel progress, the walls that kept them apart slowly falls (again the key word is slowly) and the power of art and language becomes more apparent.While Ah Khemir writes like an artist--at times, it feels like the words themselves are painted--the result is at times painfully sluggish. While not wordy, reading it is molasses-like at times and readers can easily become lost--the characters become unevenly drawn and reader's attention can die. The Blue Manuscript succeeds as a meditation on art, language, and identity, as well as an exploration of Islamic art and culture, but the story itself is badly paced, slow, and tedious. What aspires to be a novel is lost.
The Blue Manuscript Is about an archeological dig in modern Egypt, with flashbacks to the 10-Century origin of the treasure they hope to find, part of a priceless Koran lettered on parchment dyed a deep indigo blue. The book is strongest on the grit of rural life in the desert ¿ the author grew up in Tunisia ¿ and the esthetics of Islamic calligraphy ¿ she is now a well-known curator of Islamic art. It is less strong on drawing the characters of the multi-national dig team. Only Zohra, the team¿s translator, whose background lies between the East and West (somewhat paralleling that of the author), seems fully realized. Along the way, the story weaves in interesting questions about where to draw the line between life and art, reality and imitation. The tension on whether the expedition will be successful is cleverly turned into ambiguities regarding the definition of ¿success¿. Enjoy this book for the local color and insights into the Islamic art tradition.