Mar 6, 2010

6) Ports of Call

Original Title: Les échelles du Levant
Turkish Title: Doğunun Limanları
English Title: Ports of Call
Author: Amin Maalouf
Rating: 5/5
Applicable Challenges: 50 Books A Year, Support Your Local Library
The only book of Amin Maalouf I read was Samarkand and I had read it a long time ago. At the time I had decided to read more of his books but for whatever reason I didn’t read any. When I was checking the library of the company I work in (Yes, we do have a library. It is not easy to find considering the fact that I live in Turkey), I saw this book standing right next to Samarkand. I didn’t have any option but to borrow.
Ossyane’s (Isyan in the Turkish version) was the son of a mad Ottoman prince and his mother was Armenian. He was raised in Beirut. The education he got offers him the way to be a revolutionary leader. He joined the French Resistance when he was studying in France. When he returned to Beirut, he became a hero and he got married with a Jewish woman he met in France. Unfortunately, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War broke out. The war separated two lovers and Ossyane’s life was put on hold. It has been 30 years now and he is waiting for a meeting on a Paris bridge to see what destiny would offer to him for the rest of his life.
What I really liked about the book is the richness of the historical background, ranging from the last days of the Ottoman Empire, to French Resistance, to the breakdown of order in Beirut. It gently touches the identity issues from both ethnic and religious angles. All in all, it is a short novel of family ties, love, identity problems and despair.

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