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The Calligrapher's Secret. by Rafik Schami…
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The Calligrapher's Secret. by Rafik Schami (original 2008; edition 2011)

by Rafik Schami

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946128,437 (3.62)3
Member:StuartAston
Title:The Calligrapher's Secret. by Rafik Schami
Authors:Rafik Schami
Info:Arabia Books (2011), Paperback, 450 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:2012, Rafik Schami, 444 pages, Arabic, language, love, Damascus, Religion, The Koran

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The Calligrapher's Secret by Rafik Schami (2008)

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Showing 4 of 4
Had Rafik Schami written the One Thousand and One Nights, it would be thrice as long. Schami is a compulsive story teller. Whenever he mentions a new person in his novels, another full story shots on the side and blossoms under his pen. These side stories are always lively and entertaining, full of exotic flavors and images, but they do not necessarily add much to the rather simple main plot of the novel. They may detract from cohesiveness.

Schami (a Christian) brings in again his favorite themes: love, (read: love that crosses religions, in particular between a Muslim woman and a Christian man--not the other way around); street life in busy, noisy and colorful Damascus; social and family interactions in modern Syria; corruption amongst the country’s political class; religious tensions. What is new in this book is his presentation of the art and history of the Arabic alphabet and calligraphy.

Aside from his usual topics, what also characterizes Schami is his particular tone. He is capable of narrating with a sweet tone some charming scenes (he has also written books for children) and then brings in, abruptly, incidents of sudden brutality (could anything ever happen in Syria without any hint of violence?). I find this very peculiar.

This will be my last Schami. I have enjoyed his depictions of life in Damascus, and learning about the complex history of modern Syria in [b:The Dark Side of Love|6359825|The Dark Side of Love|Rafik Schami|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348746072s/6359825.jpg|2555674], but I have reached my saturation point. His characters remain flat and do not emerge beyond those in a tale. I wonder whether he will ever write about what is happening in Syria these days.
( )
  KalliopeMuse | Apr 2, 2013 |
Just finished this and I really loved it. Rich characters, evev the secondary characters have depth.
Set in Syria in the 1950's, when the country was grappling with being an ancient culture in a modernizing world. The conflict is visualized through the worls of calligraphy and various attempts to modernize and simplify the Arabic alphabet and language.
The last hundred pages becomes almost a separate book on the virtues of the alphabet, and the art fo callligraphy.
Reads like the stories from which Scherezarde arose. Beautiful and magical ( )
  MarshaKT | Mar 13, 2013 |
This book follows the lives of Hamdi Farsi a master of calligraphy, his wife Noura and the Christian pauper Salman. In Damascus any move to try and bring Arabic to a modern level is frowned upon and so when Farsi tries to do this attempts are made to stop him. To find out what he is doing though the pauper Salman is found a job in his shop. Neither know what is happening, Salman thinks he is being helped by a kindly bar owner while Farsi sees a boy trying to better himself.

But as time goes on and the plans laid by Farsi are stopped then the truth starts to dawn....someone is feeding people his secrets and plans.

While this happens a love grows between Salman and Noura which they have to keep hidden. A love between a Muslim and a Christian in Damascus is something that cannot be known. In the end they leave but the blame comes onto a local businessman who is known to have many lovers. A blame which drives Farsi over the edge....but will he survive to modernise his language. Will the lovers be able to escape safely and why are the Pure Ones so against the changes in the language.

This book just flows from beginning to end. It is an easy read as from the start the characters are beleivable and detailed. At a certain point you begin to wonder how they are all tied together though but the secret is revealed soon after....it is like the author knows wheni it should happen. And that point rotates around the dog.

If you start this book you won't want to stop and when you get towards the end you'll try to slow down to make it last longer. ( )
  StuartAston | Nov 11, 2012 |
learned a lot about the arabian language. very interesting. i just hoped the author would hve stayed with one or two main characters instead of jumping from one to the other to show all sides to the story. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Apr 12, 2012 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rafik Schamiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bell, AntheaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Even as a young man, Hamid Farsi is acclaimed as a master of the art of calligraphy. But as time goes by, he sees that weaknesses in the Arabic language and its script limit its uses in the modern world. In a secret society, he works out schemes for radical reform, never guessing what risks he is running and how far the purists are willing to go to stop him. His beautiful wife, Nura, is ignorant of the great plans on her husband's mind. She knows only his cold, avaricious side and so it is no wonder she feels flattered by the attentions of his amusing, lively young apprentice. And so begins a passionate love story--the love of a Muslim woman and a Christian man--Cover, [p.4].… (more)

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