Book picks similar to
A Sultan in Palermo by Tariq Ali


historical-fiction
fiction
islam
history

The Ruby in Her Navel


Barry Unsworth - 2006
    The novel opens in Palermo, in which Latin and Greek, Arab and Jew live together in precarious harmony. Thurstan Beauchamp, the Christian son of a Norman knight, works for Yusuf, a Muslim Arab, in the palace’s central finance office, a job which includes the management of blackmail and bribes, and the gathering of secret information for the king. But the peace and prosperity of the kingdom is being threatened, internally as well as externally. Known for his loyalty but divided between the ideals of chivalry and the harsh political realities of his tumultuous times, Thurstan is dispatched to uncover the conspiracies brewing against his king. During his journeys, he encounters the woman he loved as a youth; and the renewed promise of her love, as well as the mysterious presence of an itinerant dancing girl, sends him on a spiritual odyssey that forces him to question the nature of his ambition and the folly of uncritical reverence for authority. With the exquisite prose and masterful narrative drive that have earned him widespread acclaim, Barry Unsworth transports the reader to a distant past filled with deception and mystery, and whose racial, tribal, and religious tensions are still with us today.

Qaisar o Kisra / قیصر و کسریٰ


Naseem Hijazi - 1926
    It follows Asim, a young Arab, who leaves his homeland to escape the barbarism there in search for peace and finds himself caught between a bloody war between two great powers of the world.

The Lute Player


Norah Lofts - 1951
    And, above all, here is the story of the minstrel whose life was linked with that of the King - the story of Blondel - the Lute Player.

The Scarlet City


Hella S. Haasse - 1952
    Although he bears one of the most notorious names in all of Italy, Giovanni doesn't know his parentage. Is Cesare Borgia his father or his brother? Or is he no relation at all? Is Lucrezia Borgia his mother or his sister -- or possibly both? Hella Haasse uses the ferment and intrigue of the Italian Wars -- during which French, Swiss, Spanish and German armies surged into Italy -- as a backdrop for Giovanni's agonizing quest for his identiy.Giovanni's search introduces us to some of the most intriguing people of the times: Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Vittoria Colonna and Lucrezia Borgia. Hella Haasse draws each with great depth and brilliant color.

Red Water


Judith Freeman - 2001
    Twenty years later, the slaughter was blamed on one man named John D. Lee, previously a member of Brigham Young's inner circle. Red Water imagines Lee's extraordinary frontier life through the eyes of three of his nineteen wives. Emma is a vigorous and capable Englishwoman who loves her husband unconditionally. Ann, a bride at thirteen years old, is an independent adventurer. Rachel is exceedingly devout and married Lee to be with her sister, his first wife. These spirited women describe their struggle to survive Utah's punishing landscape and the poisonous rivalries within their polygamous family, led by a magnetic, industrious, and considerate husband, who was also unafraid of using his faith to justify desire and ambition.

The Italian House


Teresa Crane - 1995
    It could be her only escape from the mundane and suffocating routine of life with Arthur, her repressive husband.Arriving late at night and in the midst of a violent storm, she discovers that she is not alone. A young man is there before her, an enigmatic figure from the past: her cousin Leo, who had been missing for years, believed dead.As Carrie reads the secrets of her grandmother’s diaries and the enchantment of the house exerts itself, Carrie finds herself irresistibly drawn to him. But what of her husband? And is Leo really who he appears to be?

Come Spring


Ben Ames Williams - 1968
    It was the way in which towns were founded from the Atlantic seaboard west to the great plains, by stripping off the forest and putting the land to work. The people in this book were not individually as important as George Washington; the town they founded was not as important as New York. But people like them made this country, and towns like ths one were and are the soil in which this country s roots are grounded.ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Ben Ames Williams was born in 1889 in Macon, Mississippi. A graduate of Dartmouth, he became a reporter for the BOSTON AMERICAN, and published short stories in some of the nation s leading magazines. Williams wrote many historical novels before his death in 1953. He carefully researched each book. For COME SPRING, he read the records and diaries of the early settlers; he followed their trails and canoed the same rivers to the sites of their early dwellings. Another important resource was John Langdon Sibley s HISTORY OF UNION written in 1851. Sibley had known those founding families and was able to include accurate details in his history. Ben Ames Williams lived for a time in Union and his famiy still has a residence in the area.

The Jewel of Medina


Sherry JonesSherry Jones - 2008
    When she is married to the Prophet Muhammad at the age of nine, she must rely on her wits, her courage, and even her sword in a struggle to control her own destiny and carve out a place for herself in the community, fighting religious persecution, jealous sister-wives, political rivals, and her own temptations. As she grows to love her kind, generous husband, her ingenuity and devotion make her an indispensable advisor to Muhammad. Ultimately, she becomes one of the most important women in Islam, and a fierce protector of her husband's words and legacy.Extensively researched, The Jewel of Medina evokes the beauty and harsh realities of life in an age long past. At once a love story, a history lesson, and a coming-of-age tale, it introduces readers to the turmoil that surrounded the birth of the Islamic faith through the eyes of an unforgettable heroine.

The Lion Of The North


G.A. Henty - 1886
    When the Emperor of Austria sought to eliminate Protestantism from Germany, the Swedish King fought the terrorism endured throughout villages whose population was mercilessly decreased by the Hun invasion. The Scots displayed the fortitude of Gustavus's army by fighting their way across a Germany that was tormented by religious persecution. Malcolm underwent enterprises whose possible outcome was dangerous, but his quick thinking and insolent resolve won him the struggle against a pitiless opponent.

The Eyes of Venice


Alessandro Barbero - 2011
    The Doge rules with an iron fist and the Holy Office harbors suspicions about everything and everyone. Even the walls have eyes. The Republic of Venice watches and listens, then passes judgment swiftly and definitively.In a city where everyone is assumed guilty of something, a young stonemason by the name of Michele has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Afraid for his life, he flees the city aboard a galley carrying gold coin, leaving behind his young wife, Bianca. Banished from his home, Michele embarks on a series of extraordinary adventures as the ship he travels on stops in every port and on every island of the Mediterranean. In order to survive this once naïve and immature boy must fast become a man, one possessed of cunning, courage and fortitude.Bianca remains alone in the cruel and treacherous Venice. She faces challenges that are, if anything, even more difficult than those of Michele, and will encounter all the terrors and mysteries that the labyrinthine city holds in its blind alleys and narrow passageways. And she, like Michele, will discover in herself a tenacious and indestructible will to survive.Land and sea, East and West, the arrogance of power and the indestructible pride of the poor and dispossessed. Two lives and one all embracing love. As richly imagined as Orhan Pamuk’s The White Castle, The Eyes of Venice is a grand and gripping tale of love and adventure that will also appeal to fans of the historical novels of Umberto Eco and Susan Dunant.

Desperadoes


Ron Hansen - 1979
    Desperadoes details his memories of the murders, bootlegging and thievery he and his posse committed. The grit and excitement of these violent times are expertly evoked by the sharp pen and authentic voice of HarperCollins' bestselling author Ron Hansen.

Crooked River Burning


Mark Winegardner - 2001
    For Easterners, Cleveland is where the Midwest begins; for Westerners, it is where the East begins. In the summer of 1948, fourteen-year-old David Zielinsky can look forward to a job at the docks. Anne O'Connor, at twelve, is the apple of her political boss father's eye. David and Anne will meet-and fall in love-four years later, and for the next twenty years this pair will be reluctant star-crossed lovers in a troubled and turbulent country. A natural-born storyteller, Mark Winegardner spins an epic tale of those twenty years, artfully weaving such real-life Clevelanders as Eliot Ness, Alan Freed, and Carl Stokes into the tapestry. His narrative gifts may bring the fiction of E. L. Doctorow to some readers' minds, but Winegardner is very much his own man, and his observations of Cleveland are laced with a loving skepticism. His masterful saga of this conflicted city is a novel that speaks a memorable truth.

The Corner That Held Them


Sylvia Townsend Warner - 1948
    Two centuries later, the Benedictine community is well established there and, as befits a convent whose origin had such ironic beginnings, the inhabitants are prey to the ambitions, squabbles, jealousies, and pleasures of less spiritual environments. An outbreak of the Black Death, the collapse of the convent spire, the Bishop's visitation, and a nun's disappearance are interwoven with the everyday life of the nuns, novices, and prioresses in this marvelous imagined history of a 14th-century nunnery.

The Geometry of God


Uzma Aslam Khan - 2008
    Through these vivid, contradictory, and original characters, Khan celebrates the complexities of familial and erotic love, the tug of curiosity and duty, the intersections of faith and longing. Her exuberant language draws from Urdu and Punjabi and invents one of its own for Mehwish, whose fractured English divides and slows and reveals.The Geometry of God is a novel one can read greedily, following these characters as their lives unfold against the backdrop of General Zia’s Pakistan, where religious fundamentalism gains ground and the mujaheddin is funded by gem sales and the Americans. Or one can savor, as the sisters show us: digging as Amal does toward the novel’s deepest questions about love and knowledge and faith, moving as Mehwish does to the rhythms of an abundant and original language.

The Colour of Heaven


James Runcie - 2000
    THE COLOUR OF HEAVEN is a fictional account of a young man who travelled to what are now Afghanistan and China to discover lapis lazuli, the precious stone that when turned into ultramarine changed the history of painting -- allowing artists to abandon gold as a background and open up depth, landscape and perspective with the most beautiful shade of blue. Along the way, Paolo suffers the torments of unfulfilled love before he returns to his anxious family in Venice, where he also plays a part in the early development of lenses and spectacles!