Lev Nussimbaum - Works - Ali and Nino

Ali and Nino

Tom Reiss attributes the 1937 novel Ali and Nino:A Love Story to Lev Nussimbaum. Ali and Nino was published under the pseudonym Kurban Said. Tom Reiss, in the book The Orientalist (a biography about Nussimbaum), argues that Said was Nussimbaum's pseudonym, and the work was written directly by Nussimbaum.

Reiss also debunks claims put forward by the heirs of Austrian barronness Elfriede Ehrenfels who claimed co-authorship. Reiss argues that she registered the book with German authorities in Austria at the time (after 1938), this was because Nussimbaum could not have received money for publishing the book in Germany due to his Jewish heritage.

Other critics, however, have argued that the book was either entirely or partially plagiarized by Nussimbaum. In 2011, Azerbaijan International devoted an entire issue of their magazine (364 pages with hundreds of footnotes) to the issue of the authorship of Ali and Nino, and their authors concluded that the book was primarily written by Azerbaijani author Yusif Vazir Chamanzaminli, though they concede that Nussimbaum did re-write portions of the book.

Their arguments include the claims that the folkloric and legendary passages include exact "cut and paste" passages that were published in Nussimbaum's earlier works, over and over again, as was his practice, as well as the fact that Nussimbaum left the Caucasus when he was only 14 years old and that he boasted that he was a Monarchist when the novel clearly supports the views of someone who sought the independence of Azerbaijan. Reiss dismissed the claimed that Chamanzaminli was the author behind the Said pseudonym claiming that he looked at one of Chamanzaminli's novellas and found him to be a nationalist; but Azerbaijan International journal authors identify Ali and Nino as a "nationalist" book in the broader sense since the novel is essentially about Azerbaijan's independence.

In addition, Tamar Injia published a book entitled Ali and Nino – Literary Robbery!, arguing that substantial portions of the book were "stolen" from the book The Snake's Skin by Georgian author Grigol Robakidze. Injia analyzed the two books, and found a number of similar and identical passages, and concluded that Said (whose real life identity she does not attempt to determine) deliberately stole the contents of Robakidze's earlier novel.

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