Set in 1928, Kurban Said’s classic novel of thwarted love, exile, and desire explores the clash of values between conservative prewar Istanbul and decadent postwar Berlin, as well as the tensions between Muslims and Christians. Ultimately, it is the story of one girl’s choice between two worlds.
Asiadeh Anbara and her father, once members of the Turkish royal court, have fled the collapse of the Ottoman empire to start a new life in Berlin. Years earlier Asiadeh had been engaged to a Turkish prince, but now, under the spell of the West, the nineteen-year-old Muslim girl falls in love and marries a Viennese doctor, an “unbeliever.” When the prince reappears, Asiadeh finds herself torn between the marriage she made in good faith and the promise made long ago. Written in 1938 and now translated into English for the first time, The Girl from the Golden Horn is a suspenseful and strikingly beautiful novel that remains powerful and moving today.
About Kurban Said
The life of Kurban Said is surrounded by mystery–a story as exotic as his fiction, as a recent article in The New Yorker revealed. It is believed that Kurban Said was a confected name representing the writing of one Essad Bey and his collaboration with an Austrian countess, the Baroness Elfriede Ehrenfels. Essad Bey was itself an assumed name of Lev Nussimbaum, who was Jewish, born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1905. In his youth Nussimbaum became a convert to Islam and in the early 1920s he associated himself with literary and journalistic circles in Berlin. In the late 1930s he reportedly fled from Nazi Germany to Austria, where he became involved with the family of Elfriede Ehrenfels. After Austria began to fall into the Nazi ambit it is believed that Essad Bey fled to Italy, where he died in 1942.
“Alluring, romantic, exotic.... narrated with a sparkling, high-spirited intelligence.”--Elle
“Said’s brilliant novel [of] exile, loss, and identities thrown into uncertainty . . . create[s] an unusual atmosphere of romance and sudden brutality, exoticism and cold precision.” –Newsday
“Lovely and seductive. . . . As characters reinvent themselves and struggle between conflicting worlds, it ultimately seems there’s no place like home.” —Book
“A deeply felt, lucidly presented contrast of old and new worlds... Any reader who loved Ali and Nino won't want to miss it.” –Kirkus
“[Said] eloquently evokes the shifting relationships between East and West, Christian and Muslim, male and female.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A magnificent writer.” —Paul Theroux
“As in his first poignant novel, Ali and Nino, Said uses a love story between members of two cultures to portray the overwhelming conflict when civilizations clash.” —Bookreporter.com