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.

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Read an extract here

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

From the archive

  • ‘Bush’s Cuba Detour’

    October 24, 2007

    ‘Bush’s Cuba Detour’ by Tariq Ali for Counterpunch, October 24, 2007

    Bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, obsessed with Iran’s rise as a regional power (a direct result of the wars in the aforementioned countries) the State Department has woken up to the fact that South America is in turmoil. Their last major intervention in the region was a crude attempt to topple the democratically elected government in Venezuela. This was in 2002, a year before the adventure in Iraq. Since then a wave of Bolivarian unity has swept the continent, successful in Bolivia and Ecuador, creating ripples in Peru and Paraguay and, above all, breaking the long isolation of Cuba. It is this that is causing the panic in Miami.

    This tiny island that has defied imperial intervention, bullying and blockade for almost half-a-century remains an imperial  …

  • ‘Out with the old, in with the new’

    February 7, 2005

    ‘Out with the old, in with the new’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, February 7, 2005

    The Iraqi elections were designed not to preserve the unity of Iraq but to re-establish the unity of the west

    The US, unlike the empires of old Europe, has always preferred to exercise its hegemony indirectly. It has relied on local relays – uniformed despots, corrupt oligarchs, pliant politicians, obedient monarchs – rather than lengthy occupations. It was only when rebellions from below threatened to disrupt this order that the marines were dispatched and wars fought.

    During the cold war, money was supplied indiscriminately to all anti-communist forces (including the current leadership of al-Qaida); the 21st-century recipients are more carefully targeted. The aim is slowly to replace the traditional elites in the old satrapies with a new breed of neo-liberal politicians  …

  • ‘The Flight into the Abyss’ – The Independent reviews The Duel

    November 5, 2008

    The Duel reviewed by Salil Tripathi in The Independent, November 5, 2008.

    Too many reasons to be cheerless about Pakistan’s near future.

    Once again, Pakistan is in crisis, with Waziristan the newest “most dangerous place” in the world. Islamabad can’t control the escalating conflict, and the government is again run by an unpopular, incompetent and nepotistic civilian administration.

    And again, Pakistan is going hat in hand to the IMF, Saudi Arabia and China to face off oil prices, food inflation, dwindling foreign exchange and declining terms of trade.

    Tariq Ali has been warning of Pakistan’s collapse for four decades. For those sins, his books have often been banned there, and “generals, corrupt politicians and bearded lunatics” dislike him in equal measure. In The Duel, Ali provides a gossip-filled, witty and polemical history, revealing, with perspicacity and  …