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Ali and Nino

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  5,297 ratings  ·  627 reviews
First published in Vienna in 1937, this classic story of romance and adventure has been compared to Dr. Zhivago and Romeo and Juliet.  Its mysterious author was recently the subject of a feature article in the New Yorker, which has inspired a forthcoming biography. Out of print for nearly three decades until the hardcover re-release last year, Ali and Nino is Kurban Said's ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 3rd 2000 by Anchor Books (first published 1937)
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3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,297 ratings  ·  627 reviews


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Shovelmonkey1
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who find beauty in the desert
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: Paul Theroux
Ali and Nino: A Love Story. Believe me dear reader, there is nothing guaranteed to make me run further or faster from a book than printing the words "love story" on the front cover. Listen... that's the gently pitter patter of my size 41's disappearing into the distance....

Bleurgh. No love here.

But this exceptional book made it onto the mountainous TBR pile which is currently threatening to cause my living room floor to collapse, for one major reason. It was praised and recommended by the greate
...more
Kelly
There is a large genre of novels related to WWI that deal in the heartbreak of "the last summer" before the storm, the coming death of the old world and the founding of the new (Le Grand Meulnes, which is still the quintessential French coming of age novel, is one example). The histories on this theme are scarcely less legion.

This novel is both a part of that genre and so much more than that. It is told from the first person perspective of Ali Khan Shirvanshir, who has turned a request from the
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Ali und Nino = Ali and Nino: A Love Story, Kurban Said
Ali and Nino is a novel about a romance between a Muslim Azerbaijani boy and Christian Georgian girl in Baku in the years 1918–1920. It explores the dilemmas created by "European" rule over an "Oriental" society and presents a tableau portrait of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, during the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic period that preceded the long era of Soviet rule. It was published under the pseudonym Kurban Said. The novel has been published
...more
Jeannette Nikolova
Read on the WondrousBooks blog.

This book is widely compared to Romeo and Juliet and even Dr. Zhivago and advertised as one of the best love stories of the last century. But in my opinion it is much more than just a love story. In fact, I'm not sure if I should call this a love story at all. Many may decide to contradict me, but I will explain below. Due to the fact that I found much more depth to Ali and Nino than just the star-crossed-lovers theme, I showed some generosity with the rating, ev
...more
Chrissie
Nov 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Chrissie by: Inder
I hesitate to write any review b/c I feel I cannot do this book justice. I simply adored it. Probably the best book I will read this year!!! Of course it is a love story, but so much more too. It is a love story between a Georgian Christian girl and a Mulim boy from an historically famous family from Azebaijan. Their love explores how dramatically different cultures can be blended given the right circumstances - in this case true love. West meets East in this novel. You explore both ways of look ...more
Inder
Dec 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this in one day, on a plane flight back from Maui.
This is a book about a certain place and moment in time, but the love story is timeless. The story is set in the Caucacus, on the Caspian Sea in what is now Azerbaijan, on the eve of World War I. Ali Khan, a muslim boy, loves Nino, a Georgian Christian girl. Somehow, their love survives their cultural differences, family hostilities, blood feuds, and never-ending war. By the end of the book, I knew more than I ever imagined about the
...more
Katia N
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ali and Nino would be a quite convential written love story apart from a few facts. Firstly, the book is set in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, oil-reach trans-Caucasian country which many people would not be able place on the map. The time frame is the turbulent beginning of the last century, the first oil boom, the Russian revolution, the Young Turks and the fall of Osman empire are just a few cataclysms affecting the region. Secondly, the author of the book is unknown. The book is written fr ...more
Missy J
'Dadash Beg has stabbed Achung Sade to death last week, because Achung Sade came back to town although he knew the danger, having kidnapped Dadash Beg's wife eight years ago. He was stabbed on the day he came. Now the police are looking for Dadash Beg. But they won't find him, although everybody knows that he is in the village of Mardakjany. Wise men say Dadash Beg has done well.'

I have never heard of this book before and didn't know that they turned it into a movie two years ago. My book club i
...more
Jignasha
Jan 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-asia
When I picked Ali and Nino for my Books-of-Asia read from Azerbaijan, I was skeptical, owing to the fact that this is a love story, and I generally run away from romances. By the time I finished however, I was captivated. Ali and Nino is more than a love story. It is passion, religion, war, history, culture, honor, beliefs, friendship, and so much more.

Set in a small town in Baku, Azerbaijan at the onset of the First World War, it is a narrative through the eyes of Ali Khan Shirvanshir, growing
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Three and one half stars

Ali Khan Shirvanshir tells the story of how he and Nino grew up together in Baku on the Caspian Sea. He's a Mohammedan, she's a Christian, but they only want each other. Ali Khan likes to portray himself as a fierce warrior ready for battle, but really he just wants to love Nino and make her happy.
As the events of the First World War and the Russian Revolution make Baku unsafe, they go to live in Persia (now Iran), with Ali Khan's uncle. But Nino cannot be happy in Persi
...more
Calzean
Maybe it's not the greatest writing but it is covers the land of Azerbaijan in the years leading up to WWI and it's short lived independence before being absorbed into the USSR.
There is a love story but the highlight is the comparison of the lands sitting between Asia and Europe. The differences in religions, geography, beliefs and cultures of the people of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Russia are all covered with clarity and acceptance of the various differences. Hard to believe it is
...more
Fidan Selim-Zade
My Baku, my Azerbaijan... Where the East meets West ❤
A novel that is more than a love story, it is a story deeply interweaving history, war, culture of East and West, religion, honor, love to the Motherland ... A story of two persons of different world views who keep their devotion and love to each other at the times of metamorphosis of the world they live in. A story of friendship, honor and patriotism .. A must read novel.
...more
Claire
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Strangely enough, I never heared of this book before. As a classic, it feels very modern. The love story between two people from completely different backgrounds isn’t too cheesy and rather interesting as it shows the gap that was between a Muslim and a Christian, the difficulties they had to overcome and the misunderstandings. I enjoyed the way the book gives a few on a world that is so distant in time, place and culture.
Wendy,  Lady Evelyn Quince
Back in 1997 I was in college, forced to read what I thought would be another stupid book for a stupid humanities class. In one night I read ALI and NINO and was totally captivated. The love in this book is so intense it defies description.

But it is not just a love story. This is a story about survival and change and upheaval.

The story has a dream-like quality to it, and like with many dreams, we are left with a longing to go back and experience it again. The ending IS sad, but it couldn't have
...more
Evelyn Puerto
Aug 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is a gem. I first read it 25 years ago, and have re-read it at least four times since. This is a wonderful love story set in Azerjaiban in the years leading up to the First World War. Ali (a Muslim) falls in love with Nino (a Christian), leading to conflict and tragedy. Woven into the story are glimpses of Azeri customs and beliefs, leaving the reader with the sense of having been there and actually knowing the people in the book. This is one I never wanted to end.
Lara
This sucked me in right from the start, and I had a really hard time putting it down, despite the fact that it says, "a love story" on the cover. I'm just not generally a fan of love stories--so many of them seem so trite and unbelievable, and so I will admit that I put off reading this for a long time. Shame on me.

Anyway, what hooked me is that this really isn't just a love story between a man of Azerbaijan and a woman of Georgia, although yes, that's obviously a huge part of it, but it's also
...more
Filip
May 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
This unabashedly Orientalist love story, first published in 1937, details the love story between the Azeri boy Ali (standing for Islam and the mystique of the East) and the Georgian girl Nino (symbolising Europe, Christendom and civilisation) against the short-lived independence of Azerbaijan around WWI. The author clearly had some familiary with the Caucasus, and I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of life in old Baku, Dagestan and Teheran, or of the customs of the other nations that co-existed ...more
Paltia
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Odd, peculiar, strange little book from a vastly different time and place. The story begins prior to WWI in a cultural and geographical area that exists at the crossroads of east and west. This is Baku around the time when oil is first drilled much to the dismay of those who would rather build a new mosque there. Characters, depending on their religion and social standing, are either fleeing to Iran - called Persia -, Dagestan (to escape a blood feud), or Sweden to escape the “barbarians.” The l ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This book was an unusual reading experience in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s an engaging story, and accessible; the narrator, Ali, is candid about his thoughts and feelings. At the same time, I never lost sight of the fact that it comes from across a wide gap in time and culture.

Ali and Nino is set mostly in Baku, Azerbaijan, around the start of World War I. The two young people of the title--Ali Khan Shirvanshir, a Shi’ite Muslim of Iranian descent, and Nino Kipiani, a Georgian Chr
...more
James
Dec 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lp2000s
In pre-World War I Azerbaijan the cultural chasms are as deep as the oil wells that surround the city. Muslim Ali Khan, the scion of the wealthy and powerful Shirvanshir family, has fallen in love with Princess Nino Kipiani, the daughter of a rich Christian merchant family. Their courtship, opposed by family and friends, is disrupted by the outbreak of war. A time of great change is coming for Russia and for the Middle East, and the young lovers must decide whether they belong to Europe or Asia. ...more
Andrew
Sure, it's melodramatic, and sure, it tugs at the heartstrings way too hard in a very 19th Century fashion, but it's so hard not to love the story and the setting, and be at least a little bit enraptured with Ali and Nino as characters in tough times. And the origin of it, which remains largely unknown -- but published in Austria and most likely cobbled together by a German Jew claiming to be a Turkish Muslim by embellishing (if you're nice) or plagiarizing (if you're not) some Azerbaijani and G ...more
Jonfaith
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Two years ago I was going to buy The Orientalist for my friend Tim, the owner of the now defunct Booklore siad, oh, we also have acopy of Ali and nino in presently. i looked at him rather blankly. He then elaborated on the significanc eof such corresponding iwth the book I presently held, ready to purchase. I see. This occurred rather slowly, mind you. I bought such and read it that weekend. Oh, I didn't give the biography to Tim either.
Røbert
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hauntingly beautiful, full of contemporary resonance.
Karen
Jul 07, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, fiction
3.5 stars.
Darrell Delamaide
This novel by Kurban Said is subtitled "A Love Story" and it has something of a cult following. It is a remarkable and unusual book. The love story of Ali Khan Shirvanshir and Nino Kipiani begins in their school days in Baku and survives ethnic animosity, kidnapping, exile and even revolution. This relatively short novel has all the epic sweep of a Doctor Zhivago, painting whole new worlds for the reader to explore.

Azerbaijan was the Saudi Arabia of the first half of the 20th century, supplying
...more
Laurie
This is such a gem of a love story. I am not a fan of love stories, so I began this with trepidation. But it surpassed my expectations in many ways.

Ali and Nino are part of the two different worlds that exist side by side in Baku, Azerbaijan. Ali Khan is a Shiite Muslim from an ancient family and Nino is a Christian Georgian princess. They have known and loved each other since childhood. The odds are against them being allowed to marry because of their religious and cultural differences. Ali Kh
...more
Kirsty
I chose to include Ali and Nino, which has been on my to-read list for years, as part of my Around the World in 80 Books challenge. Subtitled 'A Love Story', and set in Azerbaijan, the novel was published under a pseudonym in 1937. I tend to avoid things so obviously marketed as love stories, but the plot and setting really swayed me with this one. Having finished the novel, I really wish I'd chosen something else.

Whilst culturally rich, Ali and Nino is peopled with a cast of annoying and unreal
...more
DeeDee
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book perfectly records the differences in cultures, languages, Islam & Christianity, the East and the West, the history of Azerbaijan, Nationalism, the WWI, the mountain villages, the desert but above all the tragic love of two young people. The story of an Azerbaijani Ali and a Georgian Princess Nino, written in a beautiful language..
Amina
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books (if not the best) I've ever read. It's an epic love story. A love story of not just Ali and Nino but about Baku and a dying era. If you have to save one book to take with you to forever.... This is it.
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Lev Nussimbaum (1905 - 1942) was a prolific Jewish writer who reinvented himself as a Muslim under the pseudonyms Essad Bey and Kurban Said. Despite his being an ethnic Jew, his politics were such that, before his origins were discovered, the Nazi propaganda ministry included his works on their list of "excellent books for German minds".
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“Close your eyes, cover your ears with your hands and open your soul.” 16 likes
“This was it; the Mystery of The Unseen, the Gate of Sorrow, that leads to the Grace of the Redeemer. I pressed my lips together, and my hands gripped the windowsill. I saw the hand of Fatima, and all the visible world sank away from me.” 14 likes
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