05 December, 2020

Ah, The Gifts Of Abandon

Iyer could not have known this when he finished his book but Mohammed Atta, the leader of the September 11 hijackers, had also written his thesis on the Syrian suq while in university at Hamburg.

Ah, The Gifts Of Abandon
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
On the opening page of Pico Iyer’s new novel, Abandon, Englishman John Macmillan enters a Syrian suq, the indoor marketplace with labyrinthine alleys and sibilant rumours. Macmillan is a student in religion at a university in California. He is searching for secret texts written by Sufi poets. It is this quest that has taken him to the mouth of the suq, which he finds suffused with the smell of cardamom and spices.

Iyer could not have known this when he finished his book but Mohammed Atta, the leader of the September 11 hijackers, had also written his thesis on the Syrian suq while in university at Hamburg. For Atta, the suq was under siege, choked by the westernstyle development all around it—the maze-like underground architecture of shops and tunnels overwhelmed by the glitter of highrise hotels.

However, in Iyer’s case, it is not so much the conflict between cultures but the romance between them that is the more enduring attraction. So it is that when Macmillan emerges from the suq, he finds himself led into a mosque where people are weeping tears of...

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