Author: Tariq Ali
Publisher: Seagull Books
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8170462975
Each year, when the weather in Istanbul becomes unbearable, the family of Iskender Pasha, a retired Ottoman notable, retires to its summer palace overlooking the Sea of Marmara. It is 1899 and the last great Islamic empire is in serious trouble. A former tutor poses a question which the family has been refusing to confront for almost a century: Your Ottoman Empire is like a drunken prostitute, neither knowing nor caring who will take her next. Do I exaggerate, Memed? The history of Iskender Pasha’s family mirrors the growing degeneration of the Empire they have served for the last five hundred years.
This passionate story of masters and servants, school-teachers and painters, is marked by jealousies, vendettas and, with the decay of the Empire, a new generation which is deeply hostile to the half-truths and myths of the golden days.
The Stone Woman is the third novel of Tariq Ali’s Islam Quintet. Like its predecessors, Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree and The Book of Saladin, its power lies both in the story-telling and the challenge it poses to stereotyped images of life under Islam.
This Chekhov-like scenario of intense emotion within a creaking social structure constructs a rich picture of history and the way we think about history.
-TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
An Eastern Magic Mountain.
-LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS
Ali spins a web of tales that is as inventive and fantastical as the Arabian Nights.
The summer OF 1899; Nilofer returns home after an enforced absence; Yusuf Pasha’s exile; Iskander Pasha suffers a stroke
The family begins to assemble; the Baron makes an impressive entrance; Salman’s melancholy
The Baron reads an extract from the Qabus Nama on Romantic Passion; the unfinished story of Enver the Albanian; Sabiha and the Circassian maid who thought the only way of escape was to fly.
The Baron reads an extract from the Qabus Nama on romantic Passion; the unfinished story of Enver the Albanian; Sabiha and the Circassian maid who thought the only way of escape was to fly.
The Circassian tells her truth to the Stone Woman and bemoans her fate; how the rich cancel the love of the poor
Petrossian tells of the glory days of the Ottoman Empire; Salman insists that the borders between fiction and history have become blurred; Nilofer writes a farewell letters to her Greek husband; Orhan’s belated circumcision at the hands of young Selim
Iskander Pasha asks his visitors to explain the decline of the Empire; the Baron points to a flaw in the Circle of Equity; Salman’s deep-rooted cynicism
Nilofer tells the Stone Woman the Selim has stroked her
Breasts in the moonlight and she is falling in love with him; she is shocked to discover that her mother has been eavesdropping
The day of the family photograph; Iskander Pasha insists on being photographed alone next to an empty chair; the story of Ahmet Pasha and how he pretended to be the Sultan
Nilofer and Selim learn to know each other and she realizes hat her emotions are out of control.
A Greek tragedy in Konya; Emineh arrives at the house; Nilofer is enchanted by Iskander Pasha
Sara recounts hr dream to the Stone Woman, igniting other memories and a few bitternesses
Memed and the Barn have an argument on Islamic history in which Memed is worsted; Iskander Pasha recovers his power of speech, but prefers to thank Auguste Comte rather than Allah
Salman meditates on love and talks of he tragedy that blemished his life; his cruel betrayal by Mariam, the daughter of the Copt diamond merchant Hamid Bey in Alexandria
Nilofer is overcome by longing for Selim and decides to marry him; the Baron refuses to discuss Stendhal on love
Nilofer sends Selim to clear his head by talking to the Stone Woman; he is surprised by the experience
The Committee for Union and Progress meets to discuss a conspiracy to overthrow the Sultan; the Baron unveils a spy; Nilofer would rather be an Ottoman than a Turk
A mysterious Frenchwoman of uncertain disposition arrives unexpectedly and demands to see Iskander Pasha, who later reveals how he used to spy on a married woman in the baths in Istanbul
The death of Hasan Baba, who is given a Sufi burial; the return of Kemal Pasha; Sara’s anger
The fragments of Kemal Pasha’s life and his ambition to create the world’s largest steamship company; Nilofer reflects on happiness and the meaning of life; the death of Mariam
The confessions of Petrossian; the murder of Great-great-uncle Murat Pasha; the agony of Petrossian’s family
Selim is so impressed by the Paris Journals of Iskander Pasha that he reads them twice; the Baron explains why the Parisian crowd was different from Istanbul; the troubled life of General Halil Pasha
What Catherine told the Stone Woman ten years ago
A messenger arrives from New York with a letter for Sara; Memed plots to marry Jo the Ugly to one of Kemal Pasha’s daughters
The century prepares to enter its grave; Selim and Halil discuss the future; Dante and Verlaine; Orhan asks a question of Iskander Pasha
The full moon sets and the new sun rises