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

  • ‘Muammar Gaddafi’s planned resignation speech’

    February 25, 2011

    ‘Muammar Gaddafi’s planned resignation speech,’ as seen by Tariq Ali, February 25 2011

    “It’s raining outside which is why I cannot address you. Sorry. It seems to be raining inside my tent as well. Can this be rain? No. It’s dogs polluting the uniforms of my bodyguards. No respect for women. Benghazi. I hate that city. Once I accidentally addressed my friend Berlusconi as Benghazi. Drunkards, pimps and religious extremists. I will bomb them again before I leave. I wish we had bought some drones so I could press button myself. My relations with the people are informal, based on friendship and fear. Why have they become so noisy and combative? I have many children. The British Foreign Office adopted one of them, my dear Saif, and wanted to put him on the throne, but that would have no effect  …

  • “Pour Obama, Yes We Can veut dire faire comme avant”

    November 25, 2010

    Tariq Ali interviewed by Christophe Ventura about the failures of Barack Obama for Marianne 2, November 25, 2010

    Pour Tariq Ali, intellectuel d’extrême gauche engagé depuis les années 1960, Barack Obama n’a pas été à la mesure des espoirs que le monde entier avait placés en lui. A peine élu que déjà il marchait sur les traces de Reagan et de Clinton. Économie, relations internationales, politique … l’auteur de Obama s’en va-t-en guerre dresse un sombre bilan de l’action du président américain.

    Christophe Ventura : Selon vous, Barack Obama inscrit son action dans la tradition politique de Ronald Reagan et de William Clinton. Qu’entendez-vous par là ?

    Tariq Ali : Le consensus élaboré par Ronald Reagan et Margaret Thatcher régit toujours les États-Unis et le monde. Il s’agit d’une combinaison de néolibéralisme et de guerre. N’oublions  …