Rumi's Secret: The Life of the Sufi Poet of Love (Paperback)
The acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Smash Cut, Flannery, and City Poet delivers the first popular biography of Rumi, the thirteenth-century Persian poet revered by contemporary Western readers.
Ecstatic love poems of Rumi, a Persian poet and Sufi mystic born over eight centuries ago, are beloved by millions of readers in America as well as around the world. He has been compared to Shakespeare for his outpouring of creativity and to Saint Francis of Assisi for his spiritual wisdom. Yet his life has long remained the stuff of legend rather than intimate knowledge.
In this breakthrough biography, Brad Gooch brilliantly brings to life the man and puts a face to the name Rumi, vividly coloring in his time and place—a world as rife with conflict as our own. The map of Rumi’s life stretched over 2,500 miles. Gooch traces this epic journey from Central Asia, where Rumi was born in 1207, traveling with his family, displaced by Mongol terror, to settle in Konya, Turkey. Pivotal was the disruptive appearance of Shams of Tabriz, who taught him to whirl and transformed him from a respectable Muslim preacher into a poet and mystic. Their vital connection as teacher and pupil, friend and beloved, is one of the world’s greatest spiritual love stories. When Shams disappeared, Rumi coped with the pain of separation by composing joyous poems of reunion, both human and divine.
Ambitious, bold, and beautifully written, Rumi’s Secret reveals the unfolding of Rumi’s devotion to a "religion of love," remarkable in his own time and made even more relevant for the twenty-first century by this compelling account.
About the Author
Brad Gooch is the author of the acclaimed biographies City Poet and Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor, as well as other nonfiction and three novels. The recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Guggenheim fellowships, he earned his PhD at Columbia University and is a professor of English at William Paterson University in New Jersey.
“A dazzling feat of scholarship…the book restores Rumi to the glories and hardships of his momentous age.”
— Washington Post
“Profound, important….flows with the ease of good fiction….Rumi’s Secret offers an expanded view of the 13th – century poet.”
— Christian Science Monitor
“Gooch’s biography brings the political and intellectual tumult of the early medieval era to life, producing vivid characters and memorable portraits of urban experience…a sensitive and passionate introduction.”
— New York Times Book Review
“A biography that is painstaking enough to withstand scholarly scrutiny without losing the compelling storyline.”
— Lion’s Roar
“Their friendship transformed Rumi’s life, and transports this biography into an exquisite, joyous realm.”
— New Yorker
“Brad Gooch brilliantly pins both the life of the spirit and the magic of the poet to the page in this intimate, entrancing, sumptuous biography. Flutes play, goldsmiths hammer, silver bells jingle in camel ears -- and Rumi’s lush music washes over the reader. “Everyone is born once. I have been born many times,” wrote the Persian poet. Never before like this.”
— Stacy Schiff, Author of The Witches and Cleopatra
“Extraordinary… Brad Gooch’s fine, searching biography, “Rumi’s Secret,” will fascinate his subject’s many admirers. We will never fully know Rumi, but thanks to Mr. Gooch, we know him better.”
— The Wall Street Journal
“An excellent and accessible introduction to the profound and generous mystical vision of Rumi that will give Western readers a much needed insight into the true spirituality of Islam.”
— Karen Armstrong, Author of A History of God and Muhammad
“Rumi’s life in this telling is as compelling as his poetry. Rumi’s Secret is a beautiful and relevant book.”
— Reza Aslan, author of No god but God and Zealot
“…a wondrous groundbreaking book….Never have we known Rumi this intimately or understood the life behind the verse so well. Brad Gooch moves elegantly between storytelling, the psychologies of relationships, and evocative criticism….His graceful prose is charged with luminous details: the sounds, the sights, the very feel of these worlds, and how they generated Rumi’s ecstatic yet practical verse. With Rumi’s Secret, Gooch has not only set another high-water mark in literary biography, he has given the fullness of Rumi to us at a moment when we need him more than ever.”
— Harvard Review
“Brad Gooch unfolds the secret of Rumi’s art, mapping the transformation of Rumi’s life-experiences into his poems. Friendship, poetry, and spirituality intertwine into a felt experience for readers. Before we know it, Rumi has caught us up in his own experience and we are changed.”
— Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of The Cordoba Initiative
“This is a monumental book, an illumination, an achievement worthy of Rumi’s remarkable journey and lasting influence. May it dance its way to a wide audience, changing lives and bridging cultures, as Mevlana himself did.”
— Eboo Patel, author of Acts of Faith
“Suffice it to say, it’s Brad Gooch who holds the key to Rumi’s Secret.”
— Vanity Fair: Hot Type
“In these deeply divisive times, it matters more than ever to deepen our understanding of the roots of sacred Islam, and this deeply researched and highly literary biography of Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, is at once prescriptive and enlivening.”
— Chicago Tribune