Sunday, November 22, 2015

“A Poet Of The Invisible World”

Michael Golding, who teaches English at Yuba College, explores the “inward light” in his third novel, “A Poet Of The Invisible World” ($16 in paperback from Picador; also for Amazon Kindle; more at The story chronicles the journey of a boy born with four ears in thirteenth-century Persia.

His mother names him “Nouri, which meant ‘light,’ followed by Ahmad, which meant ‘praiseworthy,’ and then she threw in Mohammad, figuring how could it hurt. This was followed by the nasab, ibn Mahsoud, to denote his father, and the nisbah, al-Morad, to denote his tribe. Nouri Ahmad Mohammad ibn Mahsoud al-Morad. Regardless of how many ears the child had, it was a lovely name.”

Soon orphaned, Nouri is raised in a Sufi order, where, according to the newly published “The Study Quran,” “in the Sufi reading of the Islamic tradition, every human being is called to undertake the path of spiritual transformation,” with love as the medium.

Nouri is a poet, his words “trying to find his way back to God.” As a teenager, he falls in love with the young man Vishpar; in turn, his nemesis at the Sufi compound, Sharoud, resentful of Nouri’s favor with the master of the order, convinced that Nouri’s love is illicit, haunts his life until the end.

When the Sufi lodge is attacked and Vishpar killed, Nouri becomes a tea boy for a Spanish sultan, who sexually assaults him. He becomes a shepherd for a time. He moves to a city on Africa’s north coast where he engages in anonymous sexual encounters.

Eventually he joins another Sufi order located in the mountains. He abandons himself to Allah, but also to the love of a young acolyte there. “At times, when he read over what he’d written, he would blush. Yet he could not help feeling that his longing for Ryka was merely an expression of his longing for God.” Nouri realizes that though “words could never enter the invisible world they could carry him to the threshold.”

The story circles around to the place where it began. Nouri’s poetry doesn’t appear, but for those who have ears to hear, the book itself is the poem.    

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