am 21. November 1998
I am quite surprised to discover the lack of attention which this book seems to have received. A highly respected political analyst and writer, (And a brilliant speaker. I have witnessed him speaking at the Oxford Union and he was as impressive as I had heard), Tariq Ali, in my opinion ventures successfully into the area of novel writing. My wife and I enjoyed the book quite a bit and it provoked many an interesting discussion. I would say that the highpoints are an impressive depiction of the progressive, liberal and still very much Muslim society which existed in Spain and its cultural and literary achievements. This is indeed a golden era of Spanish, Muslim and world history and the South of Spain still contains many a splendid remnant of this golden past. At various levels, Tariq Ali is very successful in showing what the last days of this great civilization must have been like and how brutal and narrow-minded the inquisition was after this period of great political harmony, intellectual and cultural synthesis and progress. Tariq Ali paints his characters with affection and care and most of the time they are highly believable. The sincere pathos he feels about this chapter of history comes through clearly in his depiction of various instances especially the burning of the Islamic libraries by the Christians who successfully went on to more or less erase the Muslim character of and contribution to Spanish history. A recent trip to the Mayan ruins in Mexico
revealed the brutality and wonton destruction of other cultures by the same people in other geographical contexts. Indeed the christian revival which transformed into the inquisition was one of the most repressive regimes in the history of mankind. Tariq Ali shows how a one-time magnificent Muslim culture, gets corrupted and sterile and loses out to a more vicious and narrow-minded zealotry. Anyone who has been to the south of Spain and has seen Moorish cities will empathize with the lament of the writer in this book. There are stylistically awkward instances in the novel but on the whole it is quite well written and evocative and covers an important point in history. I think that Tariq Ali should seriously consider continuing fiction writing. A worthwhile read which I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the history of Islam, Moorish Spain, the Inquisition or even the broad category of good fiction coming from writers of South Asian origin.
am 29. Mai 2000
A wealthy granadan family looks to its past as it faces the uncertainty of life under Christian rule with the recent conquest of spain. Intertwining stories of love and valour overlie the background of the family's unwillingness to change to the new regime, and their current powerlessness. The stories are poignant, the characters fully fleshed and the backdrop of Moorish Spain is richly depicted. A must read.
am 12. Juli 1999
Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree is about a small town in Moorish Spain, and the timeline up to its defeat by the Inquisition. The focus is on a large wealthy family, the mysteries behind family members, and how they change. Some characters seemed a bit unrealistic, but for the most part, each character was consistent. It was an enjoyable to read a historic book and feel that it was accurate to have been non-fiction. Tariq Ali showed that he is very talented and passionate about what he does.