In the need of a good reading book for this dark period of the year? Leo the African by Amin Maalouf is without any doubt one of the best books I have read since a long time.
Put onto a background of the 15th-16th century East-West or Christian-Muslim conflicts, the reader follows Hasan al-Wazzan, a merchant, traveller and writer on his travellers after being chased from Granada to Fez, in a caravan through North Africa and during his years in Cairo and Rome. From place to place, from woman to woman, he learns to drop and pick up his life and fortunes.
Amin Maalouf writes in a witty, eloquent style, becoming for a 15th century traveller. Through his words, one has no trouble fantasizing about the Souk in Fez or the river ports of Cairo. Here is the first page of his book.
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Picture courtesy University of Virginia