Book Size: 5.25" x 8.5"

Pages: 464

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781566568302

Imprint: Interlink Books

Edition: 1

Translator: Anthea Bell

Release date: 01/11/10


The Calligrapher's Secret


$ 20

“Start off your year… [with] Rafik Schami’s superb new novel The Calligrapher’s Secret, set in Damascus.” — Elle (Middle East)

About this book

A new international bestseller from the award-winning author of The Dark Side of Love.

Even as a young man, Hamid Farsi is acclaimed as a master of the art of calligraphy. But as time goes by, he sees that weaknesses in the Arabic language and its script limit its uses in the modern world. In a secret society, he works out schemes for radical reform, never guessing what risks he is running. His beautiful wife, Nura, is ignorant of her husband's ambitions, knowing only his cold, avaricious side. So it's no wonder she feels flattered by the attentions of his young apprentice. And so begins a passionate love story- the love of a Muslim woman and a Christian man.


About the author

Rafik Schami was born in Damascus in 1946, went to Germany in 1971 to study, and stayed on to become a leading German novelist and a pivotal figure in the European migrant literature movement. His novels have been translated into 22 languages and have received numerous international literary awards including the Hermann Hesse Prize.

His translated works published by Interlink include Damascus Nights, The Calligrapher’s Secret, A Hand Full of Stars, Sophia, and The Dark Side of Love, which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and was a 2010 Winner of the Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal.


“Warmly observed, richly detailed, and often bold and exciting, Schami’s fine portrait of life in Damascus, Syria, in the middle of the 20th century is filled with a compelling set of characters. Noura is a Muslim girl who looks like Audrey Hepburn. Rami Arabi, her father, a noted sheikh, is frustrated that those who attend his mosque “treat God like a waiter in a restaurant.” Salman is a Christian boy, hated by his drunkard father and devoted to his dog, and to Noura. Nasri Abbani is a wealthy man from an important family, but also a hopeless playboy, his business kept afloat only because of his clever clerk, Tawfiq. When Nasri sets foot in the studio of Hamid Farsi, the leading calligrapher in all of Syria, tragic and wondrous events are set in motion that will affect all in the most emphatic ways. Schami, born in Damascus, is one of Germany’s most respected writers, bridging Arab and Western culture with his exquisite storytelling. A novel to be savored.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Start off your year… [with] Rafik Schami’s superb new novel The Calligrapher’s Secret, set in Damascus.” — Elle (Middle East)

“Schami’s new novel shows Syrian society in all its colorful facets and touches all the reader’s senses.” —BR Online

”The Calligrapher’s Secret’ is a huge Syrian tableau!” — Die Berliner Literaturkritik

“‘The Calligrapher’s Secret’ is an exquisitely colorful universe of stories and a mirror of Syrian society in the 1950s.” — Denis Scheck, ARD Das Erste Television

“What a book! And what a theme that unites it: rebellion against the impossibility of love, against religious hatred, and against intolerance.” — Brigitte

“A literary masterpiece… a sensual homage to Damascus… you only wish it were a never-ending story.” — Sabine Tesche, Hamburger Abendblatt

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