From the Academy award winning screenplay writer of Burnt by the Sun, Solar Plexus is a compelling saga of family and friendship, love and betrayal, set against the backdrop of Azerbaijan’s rapidly-changing capital, Baku, as the country struggles with the transition into a post-Soviet world…
Spanning three generations and stretching from the 1940s to the 1990s, the four distinct parts that make up Solar Plexus intertwine to tell the tale of a group of friends who grew-up around the same courtyard in Baku. Each section is told from a different perspective as the friends’ passions, deceits, rivalries and disappointments play out against the shifting turmoil of those decades: from the Great Patriotic War and Stalin’s Purges, to the industrial institutes and Russification of the ’50s and ’60s, through to the struggle for independence and violence of the early ’90s.
The lives of Alik, Marat, Lucky, Eldar and Seidzade are realised with rare insight and a superb eye for the bigger picture, but also with humour, and a recognition of life’s absurdity that recalls writers from Bulgakov to Kundera. Ibragimbekov evokes a world of passion and honour, of proud men and hot-headed women, of great tenderness and complex humanity, where “the truth is always just one of many truths.” The novel is equally a paean to the multiculturalism of Baku, and a time when a person’s worth was measured by their qualities, not whether they had been born an Azeri, Russian, Jew or Armenian – a time brought to a violent end by the war with Armenia, when friends and neighbours were suddenly turned against one another, and broad-minded inclusion gave way to an exclusive and crude nationalism.
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Rustam Ibragimbekov was born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1939. He is an internationally renowned and multi-award winning screenwriter, dramatist and producer. He holds State awards for contributions to the arts from both Azerbaijan and Russia. His writing credits include more than 40 film and television scripts, plays and prose. Close to Eden (1993) won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, a European Film Award for Best Film of the Year and was nominated for an Oscar. In 1994 Burnt by the Sun was awarded the Grand Prix at Cannes and an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. A stage version of Burnt by the Sun, adapted by playwright and script writer Peter Flannery (Our Friends in the North, The Devil’s Whore) performed at the National Theatre in London in spring 2009.
Endorsements and Review Quotes
“[T]he spacious, thoughtful storytelling from this narrative master privileges human relationships above all. Funny and sad in equal measure, this book is one to cherish.” Hannah Weber, The Calvert Journal
“A wonderful mix of romance and comedy. We then glimpse how the people and country as a whole start to believe in the fact they could once again become a separate country as they saw at a distance what was happening in Moscow and elsewhere in the Soviet Union”. Winstonsdad’s Blog
“Director vs dictator: Oscar-winning film-maker Rustam Ibragimbekov stands for Azerbaijan presidency” THE INDEPENDENT
“He (Rustam) explores the complexities of his homeland with humour and a perspicuity that makes Solar Plexus a rich, satisfying read with an epic quality reminiscent of Chekhov.” HUFFINGTON POST
Interviews with Rustam Ibragimbekov: “The Scorching Sun and the Nature of Totalitarian Systems” IZERBAIJAN INTERNATIONAL
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