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Balthasar's Odyssey

by Amin Maalouf

An epic adventure in search of a coveted book in the run up to the apocalyptic 'Year of the Beast' in 1666, stretching from Constantinople to London. It's full of detail, believable characters and touching love scenes, and I learnt a lot about the roots of today's tensions between Islamic and Western cultures. A clear and supple translation, it's not a difficult read but give yourself time to enjoy all its facets.

Extract

Mine's a very strange wooing! I didn't hold her hand until our second meeting, and even then I blushed for it in the dark. At this, our third encounter, I put my arm round her shoulder. And again I blushed for it.

She raised her head, undid her hair, and spread the black tresses over my bare arm. Then she went to sleep without saying a word.

Translated by Barbara

Parallels

My Name is Red by Orham Pamuk
Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
 

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