Paperback original. The richly textured, panoramic story of an American mother and daughter stuck in the expatriate community of Ankara, Turkey, in 1975--each of them trying to discover a life in the larger world, each in way over her head.
Grace and Canada are the wife and twelve-year-old daughter of an American diplomat stationed in Ankara. While he disappears for long stretches, mother and daughter are forced into a fiercely gossipy, isolated community of Western ladies and wealthy Turks. Fed up with each other during the hot summer months, when the electricity shuts down throughout the city from dusk to dawn, each ventures out beyond the embassy swimming pools and cocktail parties into Ankara. But neither is quite equipped to navigate on her own in Turkey, and they are soon lost in a society they can't possibly comprehend. Their transgressions threaten to strand them between the safe island of expatriates and a city still hostile to the presence of foreigners.
Dervishes is a psychologically complex, richly atmospheric story of a mother and daughter cut loose from their foundations, hungry for experience but dangerously naïve.
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"What an elegant, wrenching storm of a novel! Beth Helms writes in crystalline, luminous prose that is reminiscent of the finest of James Salter's novels. Not since The Great Gatsby have I read a tragedy quite like this one." - Rick Bass, author of The Lives of Rocks.
"Starred Review. Elegant prose and exacting insight illuminate Helms's tale of intrigue and deception." - Publishers Weekly.
"The novel is awkwardly paced, too, with a slow start and a rushed ending. But these shortcomings are made up for by what the story reveals about the subculture of embassy wives, whose easy camaraderie can quickly turn cutthroat. Recommended for all libraries." - Library Journal.
"Set against a backdrop of clashing cultures, Dervishes is a story of duplicity, betrayal, and the cost of keeping secrets. . . . A brilliant, moving, and utterly riveting debut. The end will leave you gasping." - Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants.
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Beth Helms is the author of the story collection American Wives, which won the 2003 Iowa Short Fiction Award. She spent her childhood in Iran, Iraq, Germany, and Turkey, and now lives in Pond Ridge, New York. Dervishes is her first novel.
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