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Tom Reiss reads and signs The Orientalist 

For author Tom Reiss, coming upon the mysterious and buried life of a Jewish man who posed as a Muslim prince in Nazi Germany was nothing short of synchronicity. Reiss discovered Lev Nussimbaum, a best-selling author on Islamic themes and a Jazz Age star in the cafe society of Berlin during the 1920s and '30s, on a lark while researching the Caspian oil boom. Nussimbaum, who wrote under the pseudonyms Essad Bey and Kurban Said and dressed elaborately in robes and turbans, was a lost character in a fading era. After five years of detective work and interviews, Reiss was able to piece together The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life, a wholly original and well-constructed speculation on this enigmatic man. The author will read from, discuss and sign his book. Free admission. --

7 p.m. Thursday, May 12 Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St., 899-7323; www.octaviabooks.com

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