About This Man Called Ali

About This Man Called Ali: The purple life of an Arab artist

Ali al Jabri was an Arab artist who was murdered in 2002, a violent and lonely end to a life of passionate creativity and a restless search for identity. Ali was stranded between an English education and a struggle to find relevance in his Arab homeland, caught between his talents, his sexuality and the claims of his distinguished family. Amal Ghandour’s painstakingly researched portrait reaches beyond the angst of a troubled artist to illuminate a whole people and a lost era. She reveals the lasting effects of colonial attitudes, and how the twin brutalities of the Arab world – Islamic fundamentalism and nationalistic military regimes – have waged war against the cultural and political possibilites of the region. Ali refused to remain an Arab expatriate, an exile in the gilded drawing rooms of Manhattan, Paris and London, and for this he paid with his life. This intimate and candid biography revels in the intricate realities of the Middle East, both past and present.

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“ As for Ali’s own death in 2002, none of his old friends really know what happened. Probably it was a crime of passion, perhaps a fight over money. There has never been an arrest or trial. But that seems, oddly, a very small lacuna in the fascinating narrative of Ali’s life. And what…Amal Ghandour has given us in the telling of it is an account of love, loss, art and history in the Arab world as we’ve never really seen it before.” – Christopher Dickey, American journalist, author, and news editor.

[Amal Ghandour] ” paints a thrilling, infuriating, thought-provoking portrait of a family in decline and a people in chaos.” – Matthew Mosley, Daily Star


” This vivid account of the life of the Arab artist Ali Jabri is more than a fascinating biography; it is a history of the Middle East told through the fortunes of a powerful Syrian family ” Helena Kennedy QC 

” The worlds of Lawrence of Arabia of Cavafy and of contemporary art come together in this life of Ali Jabri, the first biography of a modern Arab artist ” Philip Mansel

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