The Stone Woman – Islam Quintet III

Published by Verso, 2001

Book three in the epic five volume series of historical novels, The Islam Quintet

Each year, when the weather in Istanbul becomes unbearable, the family of Iskender Pasha, a retired Ottoman notable, retires to its summer palace overlooking the Sea of Marmara. It is 1899 and the last great Islamic empire is in serlous trouble. A former tutor poses a question which the family has been refusing to confront for almost a century: “Your Ottoman Empire is like a drunken prostitute, neither knowing nor caring who will take her next. Do I exaggerate, Memed?”

The history of Iskender Pasha’s family mirrors the growing degeneration of the Empire they have served for the last five hundred years. This passionate story of masters and servants, school-teachers and painters, is marked by jealousies, vendettas and, with the decay of the Empire, a new generation which is deeply hostile to the half-truths and myths of the “golden days.“

Like its predecessors—Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree and The Book of Saladinthe power of The Stone Woman lies both in the story-telling and the challenge it poses to stereotyped images of life under Islam.

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Reviews: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

From the archive

  • Tariq Ali on history and fiction

    November 28, 2013

    James Saville writes for the Dhaka Tribune:

    On Sunday evening Tariq, who came here to attend the Hay Festival Dhaka 2013, captivated an audience of students and professors at ULAB with a talk entitled ‘History and Fiction’

    Always eloquent, and by turns sombre and witty, Tariq Ali, the renowned British Pakistani writer and journalist, beguiled his audience with a potted history of capitalism since the fall of the Soviet Union.

    Tariq, who came here to attend the Hay Festival Dhaka 2013, captivated an audience of students and professors at ULAB with a talk entitled ‘History and Fiction.’

    He told of the astonishing success of China’s particular brand of capitalism, and how he believes this has turned it into such an unequal society.

    “More so than the United States of America, or any western European capitalist country, the gap between rich and poor  …

  • ‘A firebrand revolutionary’

    April 27, 2006

    ‘A firebrand revolutionary’, an interview with Tariq Ali by Ayesha Azfar for Dawn, April 21, 2006

    At the height of the Zia era when all pro-democracy voices had been stifled, getting hold of banned political literature was considered something of a feat. However, it rarely followed that the forbidden treasure carried a message of hope, or that it even temporarily banished the dark images of Pakistan’s longest and most brutal military dictatorship from the mind. Leftist intellectual and activist Tariq Ali’s ominously titled Can Pakistan Survive?: The Death of a State, a work that furtively found its way into bookshelves in the early 1980s, was no exception.

    More than 20 years after its publication, the one-time fiery student leader who was packed off to Oxford by his parents to escape the wrath of the Ayub regime, and who continues  …

  • V40 Philosophy at the Tate Modern: Tariq Ali In Defense of Philosophy

    October 29, 2010

    Following a screening of Derek Jarman’s Wittgenstein at the Tate Modern on Friday 22 October, Tariq Ali discussed the work of Jarman and Ludwig Wittgenstein, and the writing and making of Ali’s series of filmic philosophers’ lives with Jonathan Derbyshire, culture editor of the New Statesman. This event, celebrating Verso’s 40th year of publishing, was the first in the In Defense of Philosophy Series hosted by the Tate Modern.

    In Defense of Philosophy Part 2 will take place in February 2011 with a screening of Tariq Ali’s Spinoza: The Apostle of Reason with a very special surprise guest …