Amin Maalouf

Translated by Catherine Temerson
11 September 2014
416 pages


‘We are, and always will be, wanderers who have lost their way . . .’

When a trunk of family letters gives Amin Maalouf the opportunity to trace his past, he finds himself – having never before asked questions – transfixed by the stories of his ancestors. Starting in the mountains of Lebanon and taking him across the sea to Havana, his history is one of restlessness and exile: of the search for identity, of dramatic emigrations, and of revolutions espoused in the dying years of the Ottoman Empire and beyond. The result is an exquisite memoir, a book that finds drama in the most personal of tales, pathos in the grandest of gestures, and an understanding that the most nomadic of families can also epitomize home.

‘Origins is many things: an introduction to Lebanon’s complex history, the end of Ottoman Empire through Arab eyes, and an intimate account of diasporic identity. Exquisitely tempered’ Independent

‘Maalouf’s far-seeing and hospitable worldview is presided over, like that of his grandfather, by “the angel of reason”, and in Origins he tells a story he has painstakingly salvaged just in time’ Daily Telegraph

‘Maalouf has a novelist’s ear for language and an historian’s eye for detail: they have combined to create a masterpiece which can only help to further understanding of our complicated times’ Tablet