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About This Books
Set on the eve of World War I, Birds Without Wings tells the story of Eskibahçe, a charming and vibrant ethnically mixed town in present-day Turkey, and how it is irrevocably changed by the ravages of nationalism, war, and religious fervor. Before the war, Eskibahçe is filled with a wild assortment of characters, Christian and Muslim, Turkish and Armenian, the mad and the sane, the rich and the poor, living side by side in remarkable harmony.
There is Ali the Snowbringer, who lives with his family and his donkey inside a hollowed-out tree; Iskander the Potter, who supplies the town with proverbial wisdom along with his pots; KaratavukIskanders sonand Mehmetçik, whose deep friendship reaches across religious barriers; Father Kristoforos and Abdulhamid Hodja, priest and imam, who hail each other playfully as "infidels"; Rustem Bey, the landlord and protector of the town, who finds happiness with a Circassian mistress after his wife is nearly stoned to death for adultery.
There are lunatics as wella crazy Sufi known as "the Dog," who lives in a tomb and terrifies everyone with his smile, and a man known as "the Blasphemer," who flies into cursing fits at the sight of any holy man. There is Philothei, a girl of such disquieting beauty that she must be veiled, and her besotted lover, Ibrahim the Goatherd, who will be driven mad by the horrors of war. And there is Mustafa Kemal, whose military daring will lead him to many stunning victories against the invading Western European forces and to a reshaping of the whole region. What happens to these charactersand their beloved townbecause of the war is the great tragedy that Birds Without Wings describes with such unforgettable vividness.
Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky; Lawrence Durrell, The Alexandria Quartet; John Fowles, The Magus; A. R. Homer, The Mirror of Diana; Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude; James McBride, Miracle at St. Anna; Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi; Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace.
Copyright Vintage Books.
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Vintage. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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