The White Castle
Paperback, 160 pages
This is a dazzling novel that is at once a captivating work of historical fiction and a sinuous treatise on the enigma of identity and the relations between East and West. In the 17th century, a young man sailing from Venice to Naples is taken prisoner by pirates and delivered to the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople. There he is forced into slavery and left in the custody of a brilliant Turkish inventor known as Hoja - "master" - a man who is his exact double.
In the years that follow, the slave instructs his master in Western science and technology, from medicine to pyrotechnics. But Hoja wants to know more: why he and his captive are the persons they are and whether, given knowledge of each other's most intimate secrets, they could actually exchange identities. Set in the Ottoman Empire, a world of pirates, slavery, magnificent scholarship and terrifying savagery, The White Castle is a colourful and intricately patterned triumph of the imagination.