Reading guide for 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 by Elif Shafak
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

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

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Discussion Questions

  1. On page 34, to whom, and for what, is Zeliha apologizing?

  2. The women of this novel create many rules for themselves. Identify and list them, discussing the circumstances that each reflects.

  3. How do the various characters in the novel express their femininity or womanhood? How do both the religious conservatism and the secularity of Istanbul influence them?

  4. Asya wants so much to be different from her mother. Yet she is like her in so many ways. Compare and contrast Zeliha and Asya.

  5. On page 135, Auntie Cevriye says, “The problem with us Turks is that we are constantly being misinterpreted and misunderstood.” Share your idea of what it must be like to live in Turkey. Has this book changed or reinforced your opinion?

  6. Born on different continents and raised in different ethnic traditions, what do Asya and Armanoush have in common? How are they different?

  7. Asya and Armanoush both find themselves in families that encourage conformity and dislike “standing out,” despite the fact that both families love their black sheep regardless. Explain the reasons each family feels this way and cite examples of how each acts out its preference.

  8. Everywhere in this story are symbols of contradiction—or, more specifically, the concept of being many different things at once, existing in a state between belonging and separateness. Find some examples of this theme throughout the novel.

  9. On pages 179–180, Asya and Armanoush discuss their differing opinions on the role of remembrance and the past. With whom do you most agree and why?

  10. Zeliha refuses to tattoo her lover, Aram, with his chosen design: an upside down tree with its roots in the air. What does it mean to be displaced but not placeless? How does this concept apply to the characters of the novel?

  11. Istanbul is personified in many different ways throughout the novel. It also serves as a symbol with many layers of meaning. While sharing drinks and dinner with Aram, Zeliha, and Asya, what is it that Armanoush comes to understand about Istanbul and its hold over Armenians and Turks alike? What significance does this portrayal of the city have for the novel and its characters?

  12. With the weight of the truth on her shoulders, Auntie Banu wonders if it’s better for human beings to endlessly pine to discover their history or to know as little of the past as possible and forget what small amount is remembered. What do you think?

  13. What is the significance of naming each chapter after an ingredient of the dessert ashure?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Penguin. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Rules of Magic
    The Rules of Magic
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's Rules of Magic is the long-awaited prequel to one of her most cherished novels,...
  • Book Jacket: Good Me Bad Me
    Good Me Bad Me
    by Ali Land
    Is a psychopath born or made? This is the terrifying question that author Ali Land explores in her ...
  • Book Jacket: Five-Carat Soul
    Five-Carat Soul
    by James McBride
    In the short story "Sonny's Blues," from the 1965 collection Going to Meet the Man, African-...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

An eye-opening and riveting look at how how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Seven Days of Us
    by Francesca Hornak

    A warm, wry debut novel about a family forced to spend a week together over the holidays.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & 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.