Cover image for Ali and Nino
Ali and Nino
Said, Kurban, 1905-1942.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Ali und Nino. English
Publication Information:
Woodstock, N.Y. : Overlook Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
237 pages : 1 map ; 21 cm
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Ali and Nino, two lovers from vastly different backgrounds, grow up together in carefree innocence in Baku on the Caspian Sea. Here, where Eastern and Occidental collide, they are inevitably drawn into the events of the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Torn apart by the turmoil, Ali joins the defense of Azerbajan from the onslaught of the Red Army, and Nino flees to the safety of Paris with their child, not knowing whether they will ever see each other again. A sweeping tale, as romantic and gripping as Gone with the Wind or Dr. Zhivago, it portrays, against a gloriously exotic backdrop, the enduring love between childhood friends divided by their separate cultures.

Author Notes

Kurban Said was the pseudonym of Lev Nussimbaum, who grew up in Baku and died in Italy in 1942.

(Bowker Author Biography) The life of Kurban Said is shrouded in mystery--a story as exotic and elusive as his writings.

Lev Naussimbaum (alias Essad Bey alias Kurban Said) was, it is believed, born in Baku in 1905, the son of a German governess and a Jewish businessman.

He died in Positano, Italy, in 1942.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

First published in 1937 and issued in the U.S. by Random House in 1970, Said's romantic tale of young love and political upheaval in Central Asia calls for violins and handkerchiefs. Set mostly in Azerbaijan during WWI and the Russian Revolution, this captivating novel is a cinematic, at times melodramatic, mix of romance and wartime adventure. Its hero, narrator Ali Khan Shirvanshir, a Tartar and Shi'ite Muslim, flouts social convention by marrying his childhood friend, Nino Kipiani, a fair-skinned Georgian Christian. Ali rebels against a tradition-bound, male-chauvinist society typified by his father's pre-wedding advice: "Do not beat her when she is pregnant." When war erupts, Nino, ensconced in a villa in Tehran, keeps her pregnancy by Ali a secret as long as she can. Their marriage is a union of Western and Eastern sensibilities. Nino is unhappy in Persia, but Ali is reluctant to accompany her to Paris, where she flees with their infant daughter as Ali marches off to defend the short-lived Azerbaijani republic against the invading Red Army. Said (1905-1942) was born Lev Naussimbaum in Baku, the son of a German governess and a Jewish businessman. He combines starkly realistic depictions of war with colorful tableaux‘wild dances, an oral poetry competition, desert camels, a meddlesome eunuch. A saga of war and love and the difficult marriage of Europe and Asia in the Caucasus, this is at heart a rousing, old-fashioned, tear-jerking love story. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Little is actually known about this author except that he wrote this one and only book in Vienna in 1937 though he was not Austrian. He left Austria for Italy soon after and died there, of unknown causes. The book tells of the love between the title characters, which is challenged by the political upheaval of both World War I and the Russian Revolution. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.