Balthasar's Odyssey

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Arcade Publishing, 2002 - Fiction - 391 pages
7 Reviews
Is the world coming to an end? What if, according to the Book of Revelations, next year - the year of the Beast - the Anti-christ will appear and the Apocalypse will come to pass as long predicted?
Amin Maalouf creates an ambitious tale of high adventure set at the eve of that fateful year. Balthasar Embriaco, a Genoese merchant and antique dealer living in the Levant, is thrown by chance into a quest to find a mysterious book entitled The Hundredth Name, which according to legend contains the most secret name of God. (In the Koran there are ninety-nine names. Does the hundredth even exist?) Merely to know that hundredth name, Balthasar is convinced, is the key to salvation, both for himself and the human race.
So he embarks on a tumultuous journey that will take him across the breadth of the civilized world - making his way to Constantinople and on to Smyrna, then sailing across the Mediterranean, past Genoa and Lisbon, and arriving in London shortly before the outbreak of the Great Fire. In the course of his odyssey, Balthasar travels through countries in ruin, cities in flame, and stricken communities awaiting the Apocalypse. He encounters fear, falsehood, and disillusion, but also discovers love at a time when he had given up all hope. The future hangs in the balance - will the world go up in flames, or can the secret of one lost book save humankind?

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - otterley - LibraryThing

Balthasar's odyssey may not last quite as long as the original wandering through the Greek world, but it takes the somewhat reluctant Genoese protagonist from his Levantine (Syrian) home as far as ... Read full review


User Review  - Kirkus

A clever picaresque from Maalouf (In the Name of Identity, 2001, etc.) takes us from the Middle East across all of Europe in search of an enchanted book.In 1665, much of the Christian world became ... Read full review

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About the author (2002)

Barbara Bray (née Jacobs) was born on November 24, 1924 in Paddington, London. She died on February 25, 2010. Bray was an English translator and critic. She translated the correspondence of Gustave Flaubert, and work by leading French speaking writers of her own time including Marguerite Duras, Amin Maalouf, Julia Kristeva, Michel Quint, Jean Anouilh, Michel Tournier, Jean Genet, Alain Bosquet, Réjean Ducharme and Philippe Sollers. She received the PEN Translation Prize in 1986. She had a personal and professional relationship with the married Samuel Beckett that continued for the rest of his life, and Bray was one of the few people with whom he discussed his work. Bray suffered a stroke at the end of 2003, but despite this disability she continued to write Beckett's memoirs, Let Mortals Rejoice..., which she could not complete. Bray recorded some of her reflections about Beckett in a series of conversations with her friend, Marek Kedzierski, from 2004 to 2009. Excerpts have been published in many languages, but not English as of yet.

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