I prefer to be an Ottoman
- The Stone Woman by Tariq Ali
Verso, 274 pp, £15.00, July 2000, ISBN 1 85984 764 1
No country in the Islamic world has embraced the West as eagerly as Turkey has, which makes it an intriguing setting for the third novel in Tariq Ali’s Islamic Quartet: a series of snapshots of the great historic collisions between the two cultures, taken from the Eastern point of view. The Stone Woman is set as the 19th century draws to a close. With the Ottoman Empire in terminal decline, Ali sends the members of a wealthy and aristocratic Turkish family hurrying to the bedside of the patriarch, Iskander Pasha, who has had a stroke. As he slowly recovers, the family, their friends and servants debate whether their country, ‘the sick man of Europe’, can get better too.