BookBrowse Reviews The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Bastard of Istanbul

by Elif Shafak

The Bastard of Istanbul
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2007, 368 pages
    Feb 2008, 368 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book



A bold, powerful tale that will confirm Shafak as a rising star of international fiction

Shafak says that she did not set out to deal with big macro-political questions in The Bastard of Istanbul. Instead, her aim was quite the opposite - to "probe the simple and basic ingredients in the everyday life of Armenian and Turkish women" to find their commonalities.

"I am a novelist. When I write, I don't calculate the consequences of what I'm writing. I just surround myself with the story."

That maybe so, but The Bastard of Istanbul unleashed quite a backlash in her native Turkey, achieving the dubious honor of becoming the first fictional work to be tried under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code which prohibits "public denigration of Turkishness". Other fictional books, such as Orhan Pamuk's Snow have been threatened with Article 301* but Shafak's was the first to go to trial. If ...

Elif Shafak was born in Strasbourg, France in 1971. Her mother was a diplomat and single-mother whose first appointment was in Spain, where Shafak spent her teenage years. At the time, the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) was staging attacks on Turkish citizens, particularly diplomats, across Europe; so while she was growing up "Armenian" meant only one thing to Shafak - a terrorist who wanted to kill her mother.

Faced with hatred she says she hated back. It took her years to ask the simple question: Why did the Armenians hate us?

"My ignorance was not unusual. For me in those days, and for most Turkish citizens even today, my country's history began in 1923, with the founding of the modern Turkish state. The roots of the Armenians' rage -- in the massacres, ...

Members Only

BookBrowse's reviews and "beyond the book" articles are part of the many benefits of membership and, thus, are generally only available to subscribers, including individual members and patrons of libraries that subscribe.

Join Today

Member Login

Library Patrons

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.