The Book on Fire

The Book on Fire

“The cover of a book is a portal you open at your peril, peering into the gloom between ornate jambs. What moonlit ripple in those shadows, what damsels…”

Balthazar, book thief and bon vivant, arrives in Alexandria to steal from the famous library. But from the moment he steps off the boat, a veiled figure shadows him. Zeinab, literary prostitute and avenging ghost, will be his chaperone through the city of books. With her help, he succeeds in penetrating the underground library. But once inside, instead of ransacking it, he becomes obsessed with the youngest librarian, Shireen, who was born in the library and is herself more than half book. Their love story forms the heart of the novel. Balthazar schemes to get Shireen out of the library. But Zeinab has plans of her own…

In sumptuous, evocative prose, The Book on Fire explores the relationships between creation and destruction, between belief and imagination, between desire and fulfillment.

The second edition includes a long bonus story, “City of Bones.”

“One of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read; a triumph of style, a hymn to the senses.” — Vector Magazine

“As in his previous book, Miller has sculpted a work that is a story, poetry, humor and verbal beauty … A must read for any book lover, The Book on Fire is another masterpiece.” — Fast Forward

“Beautifully written and sensuous; its energy and delirium explode and give Alexandria a new fantastical dimension.” — Michael Haag, author of Alexandria: City of Memory

“[A] pure, uncut fix of bibliophilia … It has been a long time since a book has so completely taken me under its spell.” — John Miedema, author of Slow Reading

“I found myself reading slower, rereading passages again and again, just to savor every last morsel from this exquisite feast of the imagination.” — Beyond the Stacks

“Miller weaves a tale that is as smart as it is exciting. For a story about books, it is surprisingly fast-paced, full of adventure and suspense, mysterious to its last page.” — Rambles Magazine

“While The Book on Fire does have the strong, page-turning plot of a thriller, that plot exists mostly as the bones for Miller to hang rapturous descriptions of reading and books and, best of all, his strange Alexandria, a city of marvels.” — Nathan Rabin, author of The Big Rewind

The Book on Fire is essential reading for anyone who loved Robert Irwin’s The Arabian Nightmare or Durrell’s Quartet … Gritty, surreal, intoxicating, full of wisdoms and madnesses, and always a terrible beauty deranging the senses.” — Ian Watson, author of The Embedding

Read the first chapter.

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