Approaches to Kurban Said’s ‘Ali and Nino’: Love, Identity, and Intercultural Conflict

Carl Niekerk and Cori Crane (editors/contributors)


Camden House

"Ali and Nino" is a novel published in German in 1937 under the alias "Kurban Said," a love story between a Muslim man and a Christian woman set in Baku, Azerbaijan during World War I and the country's brief independence. It was a major success, translated into several other languages, but was quickly forgotten when World War II began.

Recent research by the American journalist Tom Reiss revealing the identity of the author as Lev/Leo Abramovich Nussimbaum (1905-1942), a Jewish man born in Baku who converted to Islam, worked as a journalist in Berlin, and died forgotten, has spurred new interest in the novel, as has the fact that it prefigures today's conflict between East and West/Islam and Christianity. But it also suggests a more peaceful model of intercultural living in multiethnic and multicultural Baku, a melting pot of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

The present volume edited by Crane and her co-editor collects twelve essays on different aspects of the text by scholars from a variety of disciplines and cultural backgrounds. It is intended to showcase the suitability of Ali and Nino for inclusion in a curriculum focused on German, world literature, or area studies, and to suggest a variety of approaches to Said's/Nussimbaum's novel, while also appealing to its fans.