This product was added to our catalog on Monday 06 October, 2014.
Night of the Golden Butterfly (The Islam Quintet) by Tariq Ali
Night of the Golden Butterfly concludes the Islam Quintet—Tariq Ali's much lauded series of historical novels, translated into more than a dozen languages, that has been twenty years in the writing. Completing an epic panorama that began in fifteenth-century Moorish Spain, the latest novel moves between the cities of the twenty-first century, from Lahore to London, from Paris to Beijing. The narrator is rung one morning and reminded that he owes a debt of honour. The creditor is Mohammed Aflatun—known as Plato—an irascible but gifted painter living in a Pakistan where human dignity has become a wreckage.
Plato, who once specialized in stepping back from the limelight, now wants his life story written. As the tale unravels we meet Plato's London friend Alice Stepford, now a leading music critic in New York; Mrs. Naughty Latif, the Islamabad housewife whose fondness for generals leads to her flight to the salons of intellectually fashionable Paris, where she is hailed as the Diderot of the Islamic world; and there Jindie, the Golden Butterfly of the title, the narrator's first love.
Interwoven with this chronicle of contemporary life is the turbulent history of Jindie's family. Her great forebear, Dù Wénxiù, led a Muslim rebellion in Yunnan in the nineteenth century and ruled the region from his capital Dali for almost a decade, as Sultan Suleiman. Night of the Golden Butterfly reveals Ali in full flight, at once imaginative and intelligent, satirical and stimulating.
From Publishers Weekly
Completing his Islam Quintet, which began in 15th century Moorish Spain, British-Pakistani writer, filmmaker and activist Ali (A Sultan in Palermo) lands readers in the turbulent political landscape of recent decades.
The central characters start as philosophical student activists in Lahore, moving to London, Paris and the U.S. as adults; their story begins some 45 years after their student days, when Pakistani artist-scholar Mohammed Aflatun, nicknamed Plato, calls in a debt of honor to Dara, the novel's narrator, requiring his old friend to write a novel based on Plato's life. Agreeing against his best judgement, Dara sets out to understand and account for his mysterious older friend's life and art, leading him to rediscover old friends-including Zahid, now a distinguished cardiologist in Washington, D.C., and Zahid's wife, Jindie, an old flame of Dara's-as well as new art-world connections in London and Paris.
Though Ali frequently digresses from Plato's story, including episodes of Chinese history and lengthy background stories involving characters new to the series, Plato's life gradually unfolds against a backdrop of contemporary politics and terrorism. Epic in scope, this novel explores affairs political and romantic while bristling with fervor and ribald humor.
This concluding volume of Ali’s Islam Quintet progresses into the late twentieth century. Narrator Dara’s world revolves around the Eastern capitals of Lahore and Beijing as well as modern Paris and London.
Dara reconnects with his old flame, a Chinese woman whom he had loved years earlier but who dumped him to marry a successful Pakistani physician in London. An old friend resurfaces, a remarkable painter nicknamed Plato, whose paintings should earn him at the very least a fatwa for their graphic satires on the activities of supposedly saintly mullahs.
Readers who have followed the first four volumes of this series will find Ali continuing to raise many of the same issues of cultural divergences and the colonial era’s enduring poisonous legacy. Ali’s graphic dialogue reinforces and reflects contemporary social conflicts and offers great insight into the history and culture of the Muslim world. --Mark Knoblauch
- ISBN: 978-1844676118
- Publisher: Verso
- Pages: 288
- Language: English