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Again one brilliant masterpiece from Maalouf, about cultural differences that should bond people, about idiotic purpose of war, warfare and absurdity of dividing people based on their religion, faith, nation, origin, etc Recommendation for all the hot brained and brainwashed inhabitants and politicians from Balkan at first place and then worldwide. Amin Maalouf is a master storyteller This story begins with the persecution of the Armenians and the downfall of the Ottoman Empire It becomes the life story of Ossyane Ketabdar whose family relocates to the Lebanon where his father ensures he receives an education worthy of the prince he might have been Ossyane goes to France to study medicine and ends up working for the Resistance during World War II He meets Clara, a Jewish woman who has fled persecution and eventually, after the war, the Amin Maalouf is a master storyteller This story begins with the persecution of the Armenians and the downfall of the Ottoman Empire It becomes the life story of Ossyane Ketabdar whose family relocates to the Lebanon where his father ensures he receives an education worthy of the prince he might have been Ossyane goes to France to study medicine and ends up working for the Resistance during World War II He meets Clara, a Jewish woman who has fled persecution and eventually, after the war, they are married It s impossible to write muchwithout giving away the entire story It s been suggested that it is an allegory for the wars and the impasse in the Middle East Ossyane is a Muslim, half Armenian, half Turkish, Clara is Jewish Muslims take their religion from their father, Jews from their mother Nadia is neither and both It s a moving story, one I couldn t put down Highly recommended, as is all of Maalouf s writing Ports of Call by Amin Maalouf5 Stars197 Pages I come from a part of the world where, throughout history, there has been one occupation after another, and my own ancestors occupied for centuries a good half of the Mediterranean What I loathe, however, is racial hatred and discrimination My father was Turkish, my mother Armenian, and if they were able to hold hands in the midst of the massacres, it was because they were united by their rejection of that hatred This is my inheritance pg 60 On Ports of Call by Amin Maalouf5 Stars197 Pages I come from a part of the world where, throughout history, there has been one occupation after another, and my own ancestors occupied for centuries a good half of the Mediterranean What I loathe, however, is racial hatred and discrimination My father was Turkish, my mother Armenian, and if they were able to hold hands in the midst of the massacres, it was because they were united by their rejection of that hatred This is my inheritance pg 60 On a train in Paris, a woman recognizes a man from historical photographs Gathering her courage, she approaches him and learns he is waiting for an event in four days She convinces him to spend the next four days sharing his story Ossyane, a Muslim descendant of Turkish royalty, fights his father s expectations to blaze a path as a revolutionary by escaping to France to study medicine Despite all attempts to resist those expectations, Ossayne becomes a member of the French Resistance during WWII where he falls in love with a Jewish woman This is a very short book, coming in at a little less than 200 pages But, within those few pages the reader is taken through the history of the Ottoman empire, the Armenian genocide, WWI and WWII, the build up of hostilities between the Palestinians and Israelis, and some of Lebanon s history But, it doesn t get bogged down in politics Rather, it is simply a love story between people that have all the forces possible against them The story is told with a fairy tale quality, complete with an evil family member, fate rather than magic as force directing Ossayne s life, and royal blood It is a simple, yet poignant tale I highly recommend it Amin Maalouf was born in Beirut, his mother in Cairo where his parents also married and he later moved to France, when the Lebanese civil war started in 1975 All these places, plus others like Istanbul and Haifa, are present in Ports of Call, as the characters move to and fro between them Above all there is the Levant, the Ancient Land, the magical place where the sun rises in French, levant means rising, while Orient derives from the Latin oriens meaning east.One day, while on the metro, Amin Maalouf was born in Beirut, his mother in Cairo where his parents also married and he later moved to France, when the Lebanese civil war started in 1975 All these places, plus others like Istanbul and Haifa, are present in Ports of Call, as the characters move to and fro between them Above all there is the Levant, the Ancient Land, the magical place where the sun rises in French, levant means rising, while Orient derives from the Latin oriens meaning east.One day, while on the metro, the narrator recognizes a man from a picture in his history book how crazy is that He follows the man and eventually manages to talk to him, even break the barrier of being strangers, which prompts the old man to recount his life When the narrator asks Ossyan Ketabdar to begin his story from the moment he was born, the latter replies Are you sure the life of a human being begins at birthWhat follows is a story so complex and unbelievable that it almost seems to be true Some of it has the dreamlike quality of a fairy tale, or a tale from A Thousand and One Nights.Amin Maalouf has an undeniable gift for storytelling and I must confess I ve fallen under his spell More than a love story, Ports of Call paints the distinctive portrait of a family whose members are anything but normal Ossyan Ketabdar comes from a noble family which used to govern the Ottoman Empire his grandmother had a peculiar condition, his father had an unusual childhood, while Ossyan is predestined to a far from ordinary life He leaves the suffocating world of his father s house in Beirut and goes to France to study medicine Here his life trajectory changes in unexpected ways and he will meet the love of his life All race and religion barriers are meant to be crossed in this novel, as Ossyan s father, a Turk, marries an Armenian girl, while Ossyan himself marries a Jewish Yet, when the only physical barrier that mattered had to be crossed, it proved to be impossible, which changed the fate of the two lovers, Ossyan and Clara Two thirds into the novel, I was engrossed in the story so much that I felt it deserved 5 stars, but towards the end I was revolted by the account of Ossyan s last twenty years it felt too dramatic, too forced How can a writer do such a thing to his main character Yet, what happened to Ossyan could happen in real life, too I m not sure why, but I ve perceived Ports of Call as complementary to Amos Oz A Tale of Love and Darkness, especially as the first was recounted from the other side of the barricade, the Muslim side Having Amos Oz m memoir still fresh in my mind, I tended to believe that what I read in Ports of Call was also true From Beirut to Paris to Haifa, these different ports of call mark out the various stages of the protagonist s life The story chronicles the history of Ossyane, from the time of the decline of the Otoman Empire to the time of the Arab Israeli conflicts But despite the long span of time, we do not see his character develop He remains the same, as in the beginning, an idealist, a romantic and a non conformist Neither do we see much historical details Instead, we get a flavour of the times, lik From Beirut to Paris to Haifa, these different ports of call mark out the various stages of the protagonist s life The story chronicles the history of Ossyane, from the time of the decline of the Otoman Empire to the time of the Arab Israeli conflicts But despite the long span of time, we do not see his character develop He remains the same, as in the beginning, an idealist, a romantic and a non conformist Neither do we see much historical details Instead, we get a flavour of the times, like Ossyane s car getting hit by bullets as he and Clara move to Haifa Not muchis described about the incident The Lebanese French writer seemsintent to present ideas than to tell a complete story Ossyane is of noble heritage, descending from a mixed line of Turkish and Armenian ancestry This theme of interracial and interreligious relationships is echoed in Ossyane falling in love with Clara That this Muslim man should marry a Jewess is unusual if not unthinkable The writer presents the idea that love can overcome racial and religious boundaries.There is a theme of subjugation and control view spoiler Ossyane getting locked up in an asylum rather unfairly and being chemically restrained with surreptitiously administered drugs hide spoiler Family relationships are also explored, especially between him and his father view spoiler It is ironic that despite the wars, it was his own brother that brought harm to him, all for money and power In contrast, it is his daughter s love that pulls him from the brink hide spoiler Perhaps this line from Nadia, his daughter, sums up the writer wanted to say The truth is that we were separated only by a few kilometers of coastal road, but a cursed border rose between us, and a wall of hatred and incomprehension Lack of imagination as well A fair read Towards the later part of this book the main character Baku empties his satchel on to the bed, all it contains are hundreds of keys When fleeing a war zone and destroyed family home why the keys No explanation is offered, no conclusions drawn, nothingis said of the keys What are the keys to our lives are they an entry to who we are, where we have been, where we are going and in holding them if they are enough to sustain us through life s trails and the world s tribulations These are Towards the later part of this book the main character Baku empties his satchel on to the bed, all it contains are hundreds of keys When fleeing a war zone and destroyed family home why the keys No explanation is offered, no conclusions drawn, nothingis said of the keys What are the keys to our lives are they an entry to who we are, where we have been, where we are going and in holding them if they are enough to sustain us through life s trails and the world s tribulations These are some of the questions asked indirectly in this wonderfully short but dense book by the Lebanese author Amin Maalouf Ports of Call being the title of the book gives nothing away as to the story that is between the covers Family, bravery on many levels ethnicity, love, personal courage and redemption are all here and for those looking for a neatly wrapped tidy conclusion please don t even pick this book up as it wont be for you The ambiguous conclusion speaksto the instability and fervently complex relationships of the Levant.Not just the relationships of geography but of the common ethnicity that most of the peoples of the area share, yes they havein common then most other areas but Nationalism which breeds intolerance can t be easily overcome This is not a political story but its also can t be ignored with the densely mixed ethnicity of the people of that area, its an aside but has major impact on the wonderfully drawn characters of the book Alberto Manguel, the wonderful writer in his won right, translated this from French and he does a wonderful job as usual Please give this unique book a chance, you wont regret it I can t stop myself from wondering how the storyline would have been if the protagonist was Jewish instead of his lover I highly doubt Maalouf would have minded, but I d love to read a plot like that for a change I must admit I m a bit prejudiced against love stories between Muslim man and Non Muslim woman nothing sectarian, it s just that there s a very few love stories featuring non Muslim men in love with Muslim women Forgive my clingy feminist agenda Anyway, I love the mixture of patr I can t stop myself from wondering how the storyline would have been if the protagonist was Jewish instead of his lover I highly doubt Maalouf would have minded, but I d love to read a plot like that for a change I must admit I m a bit prejudiced against love stories between Muslim man and Non Muslim woman nothing sectarian, it s just that there s a very few love stories featuring non Muslim men in love with Muslim women Forgive my clingy feminist agenda Anyway, I love the mixture of patriotic lost identities, even though it would do the story better justice in my humble opinion if the author useddescription in the world building and characterization I don t know if it s just me or did the anti climax rush to an end The ending kept me yearning forof Clara s side of the story Rating breakdown 4 stars because of the smooth plot line flow and the almost non existent time factor which clearly played an important role near the end 1 star because I wanted to readdescription characterization and world building After the Arabic translation of The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, this becomes my second Maalouf experience and I still crown him as my top 5 favorite authors This is my first English Maalouf experience and I am still as impressed with his piano of words in spite of the language differences I wonder if his original French books are that good I mean, they must be World fiction is hit or miss for me This one was a hit.In this novella, a Lebanese man tells his life story to a journalist randomly met in Paris the journalist introduces the story, which is essentially a monologue from the Lebanese man, spanning most of the 20th century The translation is so smooth you wouldn t realize without being told that it wasn t originally written in English, and the author never forgets the book s premise the tone is conversational throughout My favorite thing abo World fiction is hit or miss for me This one was a hit.In this novella, a Lebanese man tells his life story to a journalist randomly met in Paris the journalist introduces the story, which is essentially a monologue from the Lebanese man, spanning most of the 20th century The translation is so smooth you wouldn t realize without being told that it wasn t originally written in English, and the author never forgets the book s premise the tone is conversational throughout My favorite thing about this book is its voice and writing style it s warm, personable, and intelligent, without ever struggling to be profound I came away feeling that the narrator was someone I would love to meet.The plot is engaging and takes some surprising turns, and the main characters the narrator and his wife and father are vivid and interesting While the sense of place is not especially strong, there is a lot of history in this book the French Resistance sections, in particular, stand out.Ports of Call is a short book, but a successful one Seeing that this is one of Maalouf s minor works, I would certainly readfrom this author What I really liked about the book is the richness of the historical background, ranging from the last days of the Ottoman Empire, to French Resistance, to the breakdown of order in Beirut It gently touches the identity issues from both ethnic and religious angles All in all, it is a short novel of family ties, love, identity problems and despair. `Download Pdf ↬ Ports of Call ⇩ A graceful story of love across an insuperable gulf and a powerful allegory for the conflict that has beset the Middle East for the last half century To call your son Ossyane is like calling him Rebellion For Ossyane s father it is a gesture of protest by an excited Ottoman prince, for Ossyane himself it is a burdensome responsibility At eighteen he leaves Beirut to study in Montpellier, far away from his father s revolutionary aspirations for him But it is , and when war breaks out in Europe, Ossyane is drawn into the Resistance His return to Beirut is a rebel hero s welcome after all, and a joyful reunion with Clara, whom he first met in France But if one war has brought the Jewish Muslim couple together, another, much closer to home, is destined to separate Ossyane from the people and the world that he loves