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Quick Review: Ali and Nino

Another classic, so of course I didn’t like it. Didn’t particularly dislike it either, but that was mainly due to giving it the benefit of the doubt, first because I don’t know how much was lost in the Romanian translation I read. There were even a number of typos and obvious mistakes, but I also wonder whether the dominating tense, which is typically a regionalism here, was the translator’s choice or an attempt, possibly also in the original text, to convey that the main character belongs in a rural, rather archaic setting. Do consider the fact that some archaic terms used didn’t have explanations as a problem with this edition, albeit a minor one.
Also gave it the benefit of the doubt in the sense that I took the whole depiction of the characters and that part of the world during that period as more of a caricature, the otherwise sickening closed-mindedness and prejudice on all parts, the ignorance, traditionalism or nationalism, certain to become unbearably infuriating otherwise. It does get somewhat better after a while, however, the part in Dagestan offering something of a respite and the book becoming more serious, more “real”, if you will, after the move to Iran, even though those annoyances, to put it mildly, return in force.
Otherwise, the writing often seems rather like a stream of thought, running on but also rushed, more like something of a summary, even speech often seeming summarized while at times still being annoyingly flowery. And the fact that speech and description are often mixed creates confusion. The biggest problem, however, is that it’s presented as a love story and I just didn’t feel any emotion. Yes, the characters say that they love each other and some actions would prove it if analyzed, but I simply couldn’t feel any of it. I didn’t care, wasn’t invested, wasn’t touched, and that’s a problem for any book, not to mention for one supposed to belong to a genre that first and foremost aims to trigger an emotional response.

Rating: 3/5


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