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Origins, by the world-renowned writer Amin Maalouf, is a sprawling, hemisphere-spanning, intergenerational saga. Set during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth—in the mountains of Lebanon and in Havana, Cuba—Origins recounts the family history of the generation of Maalouf's paternal grandfather, Boutros Maalouf.
Maalouf sets out to discover the truth about why Boutros, a poet and educator in Lebanon, traveled across the globe to rescue his younger brother, Gabrayel, who had settled in Havana. What follows is the gripping excavation of a family's hidden past. Maalouf is an energetic and amiable narrator, illuminating the more obscure corners of late Ottoman nationalism, the psychology of Lebanese sectarianism, and the dynamics of family quarrels. He moves with great agility across time and space, and across genres of writing. But he never loses track of his story's central thread: his quest to lift the shadow of legend from his family's past.
Origins is at once a gripping family chronicle and a timely consideration of Lebanese culture and politics.