RaveFinancial TimesDaoud executes this enormous task nimbly, but there is far more to his book than a clever deconstruction of a canonical novel. The Meursault Investigation is also a meditation on bereavement and a lament for the growing hold of conservative Islam on post-independence Algeria ... The Meursault Investigation, which this year won the Goncourt first novel prize, contains stories within stories, yet its narrative vitality never flags ... Despite the gravity of its concerns, Daoud’s writing maintains a wryness that makes its moments of sharp insight even more arresting. It is a testament to Daoud’s subtle, profound talent that his story works both as a novelistic response to Camus and as a highly original story in its own right. The Meursault Investigation is perhaps the most important novel to emerge out of the Middle East in recent memory, and its concerns could not be more immediate.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewLike most popular literary biographies, Rumi’s Secret may not be especially masterly as a work of criticism. For those who want a more precise portrait, Franklin Lewis’s scholarly biography remains the definitive work. But Gooch’s book is nonetheless useful. He braves his own translations, and situates Rumi in the broader context of his time and place: a moment of vast creative productivity in the medieval Islamic world, where Sufis were pushing the boundaries of orthodoxy ... Gooch’s biography brings the political and intellectual tumult of the early medieval era to life, producing vivid characters out of the reigning Seljuk sultans and memorable portraits of urban experience. But against this rich backdrop, he constructs a Rumi who has been simplified for our secular age ... Rumi’s Secret may be a Lonely Planet guide to Sufism, but it is a sensitive and passionate introduction nonetheless.
Andrew Scott Cooper
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewCooper shows his hand with his title. He is determined to focus on what was heavenly in imperial Iran, while glossing over the grievances that led to the political revolt ... The chief problem with Cooper’s account is his reflexive hostility toward Islamism writ large, which ends up being analytically debilitating ... Cooper’s whisper-by-whisper retelling of the shah’s final days is often rich in detail, but he resorts too often to Aladdin-lamp-lit analysis.