> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 3 November 2000
  • ISBN: 9780099283225
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $19.99

Ali And Nino


Formats & editions


A timeless classic novel, last published in 1970, one that keeps being rediscovered and adored by new generations of readers who find it both a bewitching romantic novel of love and adventure and a fascinating insight into the gulf between East and West.
Ali and Nino live in the cosmopolitan, oil-rich city of Baku, capital of Azerbaijan. Although others might see the First World War looming, Ali and Nino are too embroiled in finishing their exams and falling in love with each other to notice. There are many impediments to their marriage: Ali is a Shiite Muslim with a fierce belief in the traditions and religion of his race; Nino is a sophisticated, westernised Georgian girl - and a Christian; there is little likelihood that she would want to end up in a harem. But Ali and Nino love each other and their love overcomes all cultural difference.
They get caught up in the political events that are sweeping through the Caucasus as Russia withdraws, the Turks invade and individual states assert their nationhood. Ali must defend the Orient while Nino flees towards Europe.

  • Pub date: 3 November 2000
  • ISBN: 9780099283225
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Kurban Said

For a long time the identity of the author who used the pseudonym 'Kurban Said' to write Ali and Nino, published in Vienna in 1937, has been surrounded by controversy. Was it possible that the Austrian countess who signed the original publishing contract, Baroness Elfriede Ehrenfels, could have written a novel that displays such extraordinary insight into the atmosphere of pre-First World War Baku and intimate knowledge of Muslim culture? Recent research seems to prove, once and for all, that her friend Lev Nussimbaum, a Jew who had escaped Azerbaijan during the Russian Revolution and settled in Berlin, was the real 'Kurban Said'.

Born in Baku in 1905, Nussimbaum had a passion for the Orient, and in his youth, converted to Islam. A flamboyant in the literary world of 1920s Berlin, he fled from Nazi Germany to Austria. Having then gone on to Italy, he ended up under house arrest in Positano, where he died of a rare blood disease in 1942.

The outbreak of the Second World War could easily have meant that Ali and Nino was never discovered by an English-speaking audience. In the 1950s, however, Jenia Graman, a German who had settled in England during the war, found a copy on a Berlin bookstall, translated it into English, and had it published for a second time.


Related titles