Islam_quintet_-_4_-_palermo-max_221

A Sultan in Palermo: A Novel

Set in medieval Palermo, this is the fourth novel in Tariq Ali’s celebrated Islam Quintet

The fourth novel in Tariq Ali’s Islam Quintet is set in medieval Palermo, a Muslim  city rivaling Baghdad and Cordoba in size and splendor. The year is 1153. The Normans occupy Siqilliya, but Arab culture and language dominate the island and the court. Sultan Rujari (King Roger) surrounds himself with Muslim intellectuals, several concubines and an administration presided over by gifted eunuchs.

In this captivating novel, Tariq Ali charts the life and loves of the medieval cartographer, Muhammed al-Idrisi. Torn between his close friendship to the Sultan and his friends who are leaving the island or plotting a resistance to Norman rule, Idrisi finds temporary solace in the harem; but, confronted by the common people of Noto and Catania and the Trusted One, his conscience is troubled.

A Sultan in Palermo is a mythic novel in which pride, greed and lust intermingle with resistance and greatness. It echoes a past that can still be heard today.

Reviews

  • “A twelfth-century geographer al-Idrisi had been told by his father of the twelve calligraphers who transcribed Arabic translations of al-Homa’s poetry, working under conditions of such secrecy that if they were even to reveal the nature of their work, ‘the executioner’s scimitar, in a lightning flash, would detach head from body.’ But one of the calligraphers, undaunted, copied out parts of both al-Homa’s poems and sent them to his family in Damascus, along with the information that the complete manuscripts were in secret compartments in the library of Palermo. Generations later, al-Idrisi finds himself in the library at Palermo and, of course, discovers the secret compartment … Whether the subject is heretical poetry, the disunity of the Arabs or the threat that laughter poses to those in power, these digressions only add to the richness of the novel’s texture. A marvelously paced and boisterously told novel of intrigue, love, insurrection and manipulation.”

Blog

  • Post Orlando / Post Brexit Anti-Islamophobia Reading List

    Following the tragic Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub, both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called for a return to “the spirit of 9/12,” a reference to a dark period of racism, surveillance, and state sanctioned Islamophobia after the September 11th attacks. In the United Kingdom, instances of xenophobia and Islamophobia have reportedly surged following the EU referendum, leaving migrants and minorities, particularly Muslim women, vulnerable to attack and discrimination. As events unfold and the "Brexit" debates continue, we present a reading list of key titles that shed light on the origins of Islamophobia and ways we can organize to fight it. 

    Continue Reading

  • Tariq Ali: 'A Letter from Atlantis'

    Today marks the sixth anniversary of the death of Daniel Bensaïd, one of the most gifted French Marxists of his generation. In this extract from the foreword to Daniel's autobiography, An Impatient Life, Tariq Ali reflects upon his life and thought.



    Successful revolutions always try to reproduce themselves. They usually fail. Napoleon carried the Enlightenment on the end of a bayonet, but English reaction, Spanish nationalism and Russian absolutism, finally defeated him. The triumphant Bolsheviks, disgusted by social-democratic capitulation at the advent of the First World War, orchestrated a split within the working class and formed the Communist International to extend the victory in Petrograd to the entire world. They were initially more successful than the French. Premature uprisings wrecked the revolution in Germany, destroying its finest leaders – Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and many others – and driving the German landed and bourgeois elite into Hitler’s embrace. In Spain, a united front of the European fascist powers (passively assisted by Britain and France) brought Franco to power. In France and Italy, the Communist platoons grew into huge battalions during the Second World War and excercised an unchallenged hegemony within the working class for three decades, but without any meaningful strategy to dismantle capital- ism. Here the close alliance with the narrowly defined needs of the Soviet state precluded any such possibility. Communists in China and Vietnam proved more successful, for a while. The Cuban revolution, the last till now, was no exception. Its leaders, too, were convinced that careful organisation and a handful of armed cadres could succeed anywhere in South America. It was a tragic error, costing the lives of Che Guevara and hundreds of others across the continent.

    Continue Reading

  • Video: Tariq Ali, The Twilight of Democracy, Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2015

    Tariq Ali discusses ideas outlined in his book The Extreme Centre: A Warning, during this years Festival of Dangerous Ideas. 


    Continue Reading

Other books by Tariq Ali