It is surprising that such things still need saying

For this book which is neither light reading nor literary opus,
I wish you just the opposite:
that my grandson, grown to adulthood,
will stumble upon it amidst the family bookshelves,
thumb through it, read a passage or two and then replace it with a shrug,
surprised that in his grandfather's time
such things still needed saying
No that is not a quote from the executive summary of the the Chilcot Report on Britain's participation in the Iraq War. The quote in fact comes from the Lebanese-born French author Amin Maalouf's book In the Name of Identity (Les identités meurtrières), and prefaces the CD booklet for his nephew Ibrahim Maalouf's newly released jazz tribute to the Egyption diva Oum Kalthoum seen above*. The libretto for Kaija Saariaho's opera Love from Afar, directed by Peter Sellars at its 2000 Salzburg premiere, was written by Amin Maalouf, and my recent rewarding reading has included his novels Leo the African and Balthasar’s Odyssey.

Amin Maalouf's In the Name of Identity was written in 1998, but its subtitle Violence and the Need to Belong has a sadly topical resonance. The Chilcot report quite rightly castigates Tony Blair, other servants of state, and the UK's systems of governance, and then goes on to propose lessons for the future. But what future are we looking at with the two predatory superpowers that caused the Iraqi tragedy being led in the near future by a permutation of two from Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump? It is hearts and minds that need changing, not politicians and systems. With the Iraq War having caused to date the deaths of more than 150,000 Iraqi civilians and 179 British service personnel, and the number of displaced persons estimated at more than 3.5 million, it is indeed surprising that such things still need saying.

Ibrahim Maalouf's Kalthoum is released on his own label Mi'ster Productions which is distributed by Universal Music. As a fightback against streaming and downloading Mi'ster Productions pay particular attention to their CD packaging which includes high quality art reproductions - Divine Nude by Ronald Martinez is used for the cover artwork.No review samples used in this post. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.


billoo said…
Nice post, pli. Maalouf's got a lovely book, Leo the African, on a time when identity was more ' fluid'.

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