The Stone Woman - A Novel

The Stone Woman - A Novel

Product ID: 7922

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Author: Tariq Ali
Publisher: Alhamra
Year: 2000
Language: English
Pages: 284
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9695160263


This book is the third novel of Tariq Ali’s Islam Quartet. Like its predecessors-Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree and The Book of Saladin, its power lies in both its lyrical story-telling and the challenge it poses to stereotyped images of life under Islam.

Each year, when the weather in Istanbul becomes unbearable, the family of Iskander 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, today, is like a drunken prostitute, neither knowing nor caring who will take her next. Do I exaggerate, Memed?

The history of Iskander Pasha’s family mirrors the growing degeneration of the empire they have served for the last five hundred years. The passionate story of masters and servants, school teachers and army officers, 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.


Tariq Ali tells us the story of the aftermath of the fall of Granada by narrating a family saga of those who tried to survive after the collapse of their world. Particularly deft at evoking what life must have been like for those doomed inhabitants, besieged on all sides by intolerant Christendom. This is a novel that have something to say, and says it well.

-The Guardian on Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree

Tariq Ali captures the humanity and splendor of Muslim Spain…an enthralling story, unraveled with thrift and verve. Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree is quizzical as well as honest, informative as well as enjoyable, real history as well as fiction…a book to be relished and devoured.

-The Independent on Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree

Ali human frailty and nobility is here…an imaginative tour de force.

-The Sunday Telegraph on Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree

An arresting tapestry of Saladin’s times, interweaving imaginative reconstruction, fictionalized history and Arabian Nights-style erotic fantasy.

-The Independent

Tariq Ali’s novel creates an authentic-seeming court, full of intrigue, dominated by a man who is charismatic yet not a hero of romance…It gives a feeling of how it must have been to be in the company of a great but harried genius and also paints pluralistic and tolerant Islam, a world of philosophical inquiry as well as military prowess.

-The New Statesman

Episodic, redolent, of Middle Eastern epic story cycles, The Book of Saladin rearranges the Euro-centric geographical and historical world view… he tells a story rich with human passion and poetry to be above all entertaining as well as illuminating.

-The Guardian

In this fiercely lyrical second installment…Ali exposes deep wounds between Christian, Muslim and Jewish civilizations that have yet to heal. A digressive arabesque waving tales of political intrigue, gay and straight love, betrayal, cross-dressing, rape, assassination and crimes of passion, his tale ripples with implicit parallels to our age.

-Publishers Weekly

The Book of Saladin is the second in a quartet of novels by Tariq Ali on the long encounter between Western Christendom and the world of Islam. Grippingly well told, brilliantly paced, remarkably convincing in its historical depiction of a fateful relationship, it is a narrative for our time, haunted by distant events and characters who are closer to us than we dreamed.

-Edward Said on The Book of Saladin


The Summer of 1899

The family begins to assemble

The Baron reads an extract from the Qabus Nama on Romantic Passion

The Circassian tells her truth to the Stone Woman and bemoans her fate

Petrossian tells of the glory days of the Ottoman Empire

Iskander Pasha asks his visitors to explain the decline of the Empire

Nilofer tells the Stone Women that Selim has stroked her breasts in the moonlight and she is falling in love with him

The day of the family photography

Nilofer and Selim learn to know each other and she realizes that her emotions are out of control

A Greek tragedy in Konya

Sara recounts her dream to the Stone Woman, igniting other memories and a few bitter nesses

Memed and the Baron have an argument on Islamic history in which Memed is worsted

Salman meditates on love and talks of the tragedy that blemished his life

Nilofer is overcome by longing for Selim and decides to marry him

Nilofer sends Selim to clear his head by talking to the Stone Woman

The Committee for Union and Progress meets to discuss a conspiracy to overthrow the Sultan

A mysterious Frenchwoman of uncertain disposition arrives unexpectedly and demands to see Iskander Pasha

The death of Hasan Baba

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

Selim is so impressed by the Paris journals of Iskander Pasha that he reads them twice

What Catherine told the Stone Women ten years ago

A messagnger arrives from New York with a letter for Sara

The century prepares to enter its grave

The full moon sets and the new sun rises