Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree – Islam Quintet I

Published by Verso, 1993

The first book in the five volume series of historical novels, The Islam Quintet

“Tariq Ali tells us the story of the aftermath of the fall of Granada by narrating a family sage 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.”—Guardian

“Tariq Ali captures the humanity and splendour of Muslim Spain … an enthralling story, unravelled 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.”—Independent

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From the archive

  • ‘Afghanistan: Before the Fall’

    August 24, 2010

    ‘Afghanistan: Before the Fall’, by Tariq Ali for the London Review of Books Blog, August 24, 2010

    A friend in Afghanistan reminded me of what might have been had the West used Najibullah, the Afghan president abandoned by the Soviet Union, as their pawn rather than green-lighting the Pakistan-backed Taliban take-over of the country. In this last desperate interview with the New York Times in March 1992, a few months before he was toppled and hanged by the Taliban, Najibullah warned:

    If fundamentalism comes to Afghanistan, war will continue for many more years… Afghanistan will turn into a center of world smuggling for narcotic drugs. Afghanistan will be turned into a center for terrorism.

    Najibullah was a former head of the secret police and had sent many to their deaths, but everything is relative, especially with hindsight and especially  …

  • ‘Defending the faith’ – The Guardian reviews A Sultan in Palermo

    July 30, 2005

    A Sultan in Palermo reviewed by Kamila Shamsie for The Guardian, July 30, 2005

    Kamila Shamsie is enchanted by Tariq Ali’s A Sultan in Palermo, a vivid, relevant and necessary tale of Islamic history

    In A Sultan in Palermo, the fourth novel in Tariq Ali’s Islam Quintet, the 12th-century geographer al-Idrisi thinks back on his first encounter with the works of the Greek al-Homa (Homer). Al-Idrisi had been told by his father of the 12 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  …