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Ali and Nino
Ali and Nino is a novel about a romance between a Muslim Azerbaijani boy and Christian Georgian girl in Baku in the years 1918–1920. It explores the dilemmas created by "European" rule over an "Oriental" society and presents a tableau portrait of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, during the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic period that preceded the long era of Soviet rule. It was published under the pseudonym Kurban Said. The novel has been published in more than 30 languages, with more than 100 editions or reprints. The book was first published in Vienna in German in 1937, by E.P. Tal Verlag. It is widely regarded as a literary masterpiece and since its rediscovery and global circulation, which began in 1970, it is commonly considered the national novel of Azerbaijan.
There has been a good deal of interest in the authorship of Ali and Nino. The true identity behind the pseudonym "Kurban Said" has been the subject of some dispute. The case for Lev Nussimbaum, aka Essad Bey, as the author originally surfaced in 1944. In Tom Reiss's 2005 international bestseller The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life, Reiss makes a thorough case that the novel is the work of Nussimbaum, which continues a claim dating to Nussimbaum's correspondence and writings 1938–1942 and the writings of Ahmed Giamil Vacca-Mazzara in the 1940s. A claim for Yusif Vazir Chamanzaminli as author originated in 1971. The argument for Chamanzaminli was presented in a special 2011 issue of Azerbaijan International entitled Ali and Nino: The Business of Literature, in which Betty Blair argued that Nussimbaum merely embellished a manuscript of which she surmises that Chamanzaminli must be the "core author," a position that had already been advanced by Chamanaminli's sons and their supporters for some years. The novel's copyright holder, Leela Ehrenfels, maintains that her aunt the Baroness Elfriede Ehrenfels von Bodmershof authored the book, mainly because the book's publishing contract and subsequent catalog record identify her as Kurban Said, though few support this as proof of her authorship.
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