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“Les Portiques de la mer” by Shams Nadir is an intense, poetic and meaningful book that will be able to make you travel from the 1462 American coasts to the birth of “zero”, thanks to the Indian Gopa
Les Portiques de la mer
Due to a certain, merciless and involuntary irony, Shams Nadir has been called the “Borges of the East”, overturning the cultural fact that without the East and its world views, no Borges would have existed. And as a fortuitous and precise response to that definition, the stories Les Portiques de la mer open with a logbook dated 1462, which refers to a discovery of America made thirty years earlier by a group of Arabs, and how, unlike the western Christopher Columbus, the Muslims would have carried it out – to save Granada, to answer the prophecy. And to call these tales of Shams Nadir fantastic (an Indian woman who gives humanity the greatest mathematical discovery, the zero; the discovery of the tablets of the law, which indirectly unleashes the greed destined to confirm the apocalyptic prophecy contained in them; the investigations magical and mystical of a scholar around the emergence, from the sea, of esoteric architectures) is, as a definition, an understatement.
On the contrary, they are the stories of a writer who modernly translates his ancient roots, expression of a different way of looking at reality: that life is the discovery of a secret, or nothing, an illusion; that the world that appears is the epiphenomenon of a mystery, destined to vanish when this is revealed. Which is the sea, the water, the liquid, the memory of the world, the stable basis of all that is solid.
“The New World” resembles Granada
The book is a series of tales of rare beauty that unite all the cultures and places of the world thanks to that magical realism so dear to both the authors of the “Islamic world” and those of Latin America; it is no coincidence that the first text could be said to be a real homage to what the Arab world was and is in this hemisphere. In these days I have often spoken to you of the probable arrival of the Arabs and the Moors on the American coasts more or less concurrently with the conquistadors, and this first story starts right there. Following the route of a Portuguese expedition, we will delve into what was the very first impact of the Old Continent in the New, going to savor very special atmospheres. The newcomers, in fact, will find themselves in a land completely unknown to them, having to deal with mysterious places and peoples full of pitfalls.
To guide them, however, there will be Jaber, an Andalusian Arab who, thanks to his great culture and humanity, manages in a short time to learn the language of the natives, helping each member of the expedition to achieve what they really want, naturally paying the cost. The great sensitivity will lead him to see the same destined for his people in the future of the Indians, which will push him and all the crew to reflect on what is right to do. I wanted to tell you this story individually because I think it is the most beautiful and, I guarantee you, it alone is worth the price of the book for the extraordinary poetic grace and writing, truly an incredible pleasure to read and absolutely in line with our trip to South America.
The other tales of a fantastic book
Let it be clear, however, that the others are absolutely no less and everyone will be able to add something to our being, allowing us to penetrate an imaginative universe in which the whole world mixes and re-mixes in a continuous vortex of meaning and texture. . “The figure”, to say, probably tells the most interesting, miraculous and philosophical related mathematical story that has ever existed: the concept of “zero” (in Arabic “sifr”); through the story of a woman who is more daring than ever and convinced of her ideas, we will be led to discover the logical steps that led her to formulate this truly revolutionary concept. To affirm that zero exists in fact means, in a certain sense, to affirm that it is possible to count not only the presence, but also the absence and give the latter a real generating role, since everything, at least once, it was nothing.
In “Acqua alta” we will observe the inevitability of the prophecies and their progress in the life of us human beings, while in the 3 texts of “The arcades of the sea” (“The box of wonders”, “The year of wonders” and ” The match “) we would be catapulted into a cryptic atmosphere similar to that perceived in” The Seventh Seal “. This last collection of texts is perhaps the most particular within the collection, all three linked but by something that only the reader will have to try to discover. In general I can only recommend the book, a really little gem.
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