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Paper by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani


Paper by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani

The Scribe lives in a town on the frontiers of Central Asia. This is a world of spies and scholars, clerics and quacks, generals and princesses, of thefts, intrigues, miracles and murders. A world where every act is fuelled on paper, for without it nothing - diplomacy, commerce, art, even love - is possible. This ambitious Scribe feverishly dreams of writing his masterpiece. And before he can begin he feels he must find the perfect paper, a paper unimaginably beautiful, as pure as the mountain snows. But there is a crisis looming. The ancient practice of paper-making is in decline, and the European paper - factory made - is scarce and expensive. In the isolated mountain town, which has become the scene of a power struggle, paper is more necessary than ever. The Scribe sets off on a quest that sends him from mosque to palace, from citadel to marketplace, in hot pursuit of straw and rag reams from the past, of wood-pulp paper of the present, and towards the shimmering pages of the future.


'Nakhjavani's language has a subtly wrought simplicity that serves to emphasise her themes, and her argument for the sanctity of the written word is tightly woven into a vivid tapestry of characters and situations ... Nakhjavani has mastered a kind of narrative detachment'
Times Literary Supplement

'Nakhjavani's language is as beautiful as the scenes she describes, a litany of names and places, beliefs and deities'
Scotland on Sunday

'Nakhjavani displays a love of storytelling almost for its own sake'
Literary Review

About the Author

Bahiyyih Nakhjavani is a Persian writer educated in the UK and US. She now lives in Belgium where she teaches European and American literature. She has also written for documentary film, and lectures internationally on the arts and the Baha'i faith. Her first novel, The Saddlebag, is also published by Bloomsbury.

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Book Info

Publication date

7th November 2005


Bahiyyih Nakhjavani

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Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


256 pages


Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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