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The Collector of Worlds is a rare combination of literary achievement and popular accessibility. A bestseller in Germany, the vel tells the story of Sir Richard Burton, one of the most flamboyant figures of the Victorian age. Burton was the first westerner to make the hajj to Mecca, and discovered the source of the Nile with Speke. His translation of the Arabian Nights is one of the great moments in the encounter between Islam and the West, a version of the Arab classic that scandalised his contemporaries with its salty eroticism. Troyav's vel does full justice to this great, controversial mediator between cultures. The book imagines his encounter with India as a young officer, and other episodes in his life are seen through the eyes of his Indian servant; the Sharif of Mecca, who is conducting an enquiry into Burton's audacious journey and its consequences for the Ottoman Empire; and a former slave who guided Burton to the Nile.
Iliya Troyanov was born in Bulgaria. His family fled to West Germany to escape persecution and he grew up speaking German and English in Kenya. He is the author of Mumbai to Mecca, an account of his own pilgrimage to Islam's holiest site. His work has won the Leipzig Book Fair, the Berliner Literaturpreis and other major German prizes.