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The Gardens Of Light


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About the Author

Amin Maalouf is Lebanese and was formerly director of the weekly international edition of the Beirut daily 'an-Nahar' and editor in chief of 'Jeune Afrique.' His novel THE ROCK OF TANIOS won the Prix Goncourt prize. Dorothy S. Blair is a critic and translator of many French books.


An absorbing historical novel and a compelling parable for our time, Lebanese writer Maalouf's (Samarkand) exotic tale recreates the life of Mani (216-274 C.E.), the Persian mystic who founded the Manichaean religion and was eventually executed on the grounds of heresy. Forced, from the age of five to his mid-20s, to stay among the sadistic white-clad Brethren of his father's repressive religious community, the Parthian prophet begins to develop his own system of belief. Synthesizing the teachings of Jesus, Buddha and Zoroaster, Mani emphasizes tolerance and pacifism, not‘as Western historians often claim‘a reductive good vs. evil code., After he escapes, Mani sails to India, wins many converts and returns home to become protégé and counsel to open-minded Persian King Shapur I. Shapur's beset with warmongering Zoroastrian priests who itch to impose fire worship on the whole empire. But it is his treacherous son's succession to the throne that sounds Mani's death knell. Though court intrigue sometimes stalls this earnest tale, Mani's message resounds across the centuries. Maalouf (who won France's 1993 Prix Goncourt for his novel The Rock of Tanios) imaginatively fleshes out the essence of Mani's life from scant biographical clues, rendering a portrait of a martyred visionary whose tale has gone largely untold. (Feb.)

'A voice which Europe cannot afford to ignore.' GUARDIAN 'Amin Maalouf weaves tapestries of intrigue that illuminate a broader historical moment... in his engaging prose [he goes] a considerable way towards restoring Mani to eloquent as ever.' THE TIMES 'A romantic and affectionate tale... engaging.' TLS 'A master storyteller... and his observation of human nature in all its facets is wonderfully accurate.' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'Wonderful reading.' HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW

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