In her second novel written in English, Elif Shafak confronts her countrys violent past in a vivid and colorful tale set in both Turkey and the United States. At its center is the bastard of the title, Asya, a nineteen-year-old woman who loves Johnny Cash and the French Existentialists, and the four sisters of the Kazanci family who all live together in an extended household in Istanbul: Zehila, the zestful, headstrong youngest sister who runs a tattoo parlor and is Asyas mother; Banu, who has newly discovered herself as a clairvoyant; Cevriye, a widowed high school teacher; and Feride, a hypochondriac obsessed with impending disaster. Their one estranged brother lives in Arizona with his wife and her Armenian daughter, Armanoush. When Armanoush secretly flies to Istanbul in search of her identity, she finds the Kazanci sisters and becomes fast friends with Asya. A secret is uncovered that links the two families and ties them to the 1915 Armenian deportations and massacres. Full of vigorous, unforgettable female characters, The Bastard of Istanbul is a bold, powerful tale that will confirm Shafak as a rising star of international fiction.
Shafak's leisurely, gently humorous narrative of two families of strong women makes for easy, entertaining and elucidating reading - it is one of those very rare books that actually improves upon reflection. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The Los Angeles Times - Ben Ehrenreich
Worlds collide and find themselves already interwoven...there's more going on than interfamilial melodrama, and Shafak's ambitions do not stop with an airing of Turkey's century-old dirty laundry...In the end, Shafak resists a tidy wrap-up. She leaves most of her characters in the lurch, abandoning them midcrisis, their dilemmas only deepened with a dose of ambiguity. But how else could she leave them? The point here - and of the ugly fuss that has greeted the book's publication - is that the past is never finished, never neat, and never ours.
Elle Magazine - Jennifer Gerson
Shafak's writing is seductive; each chapter of her novel is named for a food, and the warmth of the Turkish kitchen lies at the center of its wide-ranging plot. The Bastard of Istanbul portrays family as more than merely a function of genetics and fate, folding together history and fiction, the personal and the political into a thing of beauty.
St. Louis Post Dispatch - Patricia Corrigan
A fast paced story of love, loss, and coincidence. Shafak writes powerfully of war (cultural and familial), of peace and the meaning of moral fortitude. She possesses a steady hand when it comes to creating strong female characters, and her vivid descriptions of the charms of Istanbul serve to lure the traveler...Shafak's characters linger in the mind days after finishing the book.
The Chicago Tribune - Alan Cheuse
Beautifully imagined...it's as much family history as national history that drives this vital and entertaining novel. And it's the powerful and idiosyncratic characters who drive the family history. An, as you hear in your mind's ear, it's Shafak's vibrant language that drives the characters...This wonderful new novel carried me away. And reality was different when I returned.
San Francisco Chronicle - Saul Austerlitz
The purposeful ignorance of Shafak's Turks, born out of a willing turning away from past familial horrors, becomes a symbol for the collective Turkish turning away from the horrors of the Armenian genocide. Shafak is incapable of bringing harmony to such unsettled matters, even in the pages of a fiction narrative. All she can do, and does, is shine a light on the past, and keep it shining so that everyone - Turkish, Armenian, and otherwise - must look.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Sherrie Flick
Through her characters Shafak examines how the stories we love and the stories we tell become who we are. Her writing is beautiful and meaningful and will astound you as you find the many ways to claim the story as, also, your own...This is an important book about forgetting, about retelling stories, about denial, about not knowing your past, about knowing your past, and about choosing (again and again) to start over.
Shafak handles her large cast of characters and plotting with finesse. A hugely ambitious exploration of complex historical realities handled with an enchantingly light touch.
She incorporates a political taboo into an entertaining and insightful ensemble novel, one that posits the universality of family, culture and coincidence.
Despite heavy themes, Shafak is often funny, and her weaving of recipes and folk tales into the text makes it both enlightening and entertaining. While this alone would recommend the novel, that Shafak was recently acquitted of the charge of "denigrating Turkishness" because of her frank look at Turkish-Armenian antipathy makes it essential reading.
Booklist - Donna Seaman
Starred Review. Shafak weaves an intricate and vibrant saga of repression and freedom, cultural clashes and convergences, pragmatism and mysticism, and crimes and retribution, subtly revealing just how inextricably entwined we all are, whatever our heritage or beliefs.
The Washington Post - Barry Unsworth
… there is no reconciliation without justice. Elif Shafak's novel brings the possibility of it a step closer, and we are all in her debt for this.
At its height the Ottoman Empire,
which had its capital in Istanbul
(formerly Constantinople), spanned three
continents, controlling much of
Southeastern Europe, the Middle East and
North Africa, and was at the center of
interactions between the Eastern and
Western worlds for about 600 years.
The "golden age" of the Empire was in
the 16th Century during the reign of
Suleiman the Magnificent. It was the
only Islamic power to seriously
challenge the rising power of Western
Europe from the Renaissance onwards. The
Empire steadily declined during the 19th
century and collapsed in the wake of
World War I. In the aftermath of the
war, the Empire's lands were partitioned
and new countries were created from the
remnants (currently 40 countries exist
in what was once one empire).
An interactive map (only...
Epic in its narrative sweep, steeped in historical fact yet profoundly humane, and dazzlingly evocative in its emotional and sensual detail. This is de Bernières' first book since Captain Corelli's Mandolin.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...