The Protocols of the Elders of Sodom

Published by Verso, 2009

Provocative and witty essays on the giants of world literature

Written over the last four decades, these provocative essays and diary entries explore the links between literature, history and politics. Training a critical, imaginative and occasionally a satirical eye on the works of varied writers—including Cervantes, Tolstoy, Proust, Joyce, Musil, Roth, Powell, Platonov, Solzhenitsyn, Grossman, Munif, Goytisolo and Rushdie—Ali discusses common themes as well as polarities, first impressions and re-readings, always seeking to contextualize the text in the political and historical milieu of its creation. Inviting the reader to share in the frustrations and pleasures of world literature and showcasing Ali’s range and polemical verve, this collection will be sure to attract critical attention and a wide readership.

Buy from

Read an extract here

Reviews: The Independent, Scotland on Sunday, The Socialist Review

From the archive

  • ‘The Anti-Imperialist Left Confronted with Islam’

    March 1, 2006

    ‘The Anti-Imperialist Left Confronted with Islam’, an interview with Tariq Ali by Alex De Jong and Paul Mepschen for Grenzeloos, posted at International Viewpoint, March 2006

    Grenzeloos: It is of course the assassination of the film-maker Theo van Gogh and the threats made against the liberal member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali which have particularly drawn attention to Islam in the Netherlands. Like her, you are an unbeliever who comes from the Muslim world. Have you already felt threatened?

    Tariq Ali: No, never. I travel a lot both in the Muslim world and in the rest of the world, but I have never yet felt threatened. Why is that? It is no doubt because people who don’t agree with me about religion know that I am an enemy of imperialism. I unceasingly criticize imperialism and all its works, more  …

  • ‘Particular viewpoint’

    September 9, 2007

    ‘Particular viewpoint’, and interview with Tariq Ali by Aoun Sahi for News on Sunday posted at Indus Asia Online, September 9, 2007

    The News on Sunday: How do you analyse the present political scenario in Pakistan ?

    Tariq Ali: We are caught into the rut of a political cycle, which has dominated the country since October 1958. We have had military coups followed by civilian governments. This is what has been going on in Pakistan for 50 years of our history. Now the question is: Why can’t we break through this. I think the one big chance Pakistan had of modernising itself and making a new start was at the time of the break-up of the country. It was a bloody and brutal trauma, especially for the population of the then East Pakistan .

    Pakistan had an opportunity to make a new start under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. People  …

  • L’islam est un roman

    October 18, 2011

    La nuit du papillon d’or (Night of the Golden Butterfly) reviewed by Philippe Chevilley for Les Echos, October 4, 2011


    Tariq Ali auteur d’un « Quintet de l’islam », c’est un peu comme si Besancenot avait écrit une saga romanesque sur Jésus et ses disciples. Héraut de la « new left », cet intellectuel anglo-pakistanais athée, né à Lahore, a fourbi ses premières armes contre la guerre du Vietnam. C’est, depuis, un pourfendeur acharné de l’empire américain, du néolibéralisme, mais aussi un analyste très critique du fondamentalisme musulman… Pourtant en complément de ses prises de parole, de ses articles et de ses essais politiques acérés, cet anticonformiste fringant de bientôt soixante-huit ans a décidé il y a vingt ans de faire de l’islam un roman. Il sort cette semaine en France le cinquième et dernier volet censé boucler la boucle : « La Nuit  …