Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

The Bastard of Istanbul was fun to read because I have spent time in Turkey and there was a very Turkish feel to the book. This is a country that works hard to be seen as European and Democratic even as they struggle with their religious roots and so the way the author blended the new thinking with older customs was very nicely done.

This particular book talks about the Armenian genocide and the Turkish role in that piece of history. This was fascinating novelized look at how people deal (or choose not to deal) with an issue that has caused divisiveness within the country. The main character, an Armenian American who grew up with stories of the genocide, travels to Turkey to see if she can find a way to feel more "Armenian". While there, she makes friends with a girl her own age who only believes that the present moment is worth remembering. This was a very nice depiction of the way that these issues were presented to me while I was in Turkey. When I was there some Turkish were very open about this and would discuss it at length and others would completely deny that it had happened at all.

The author was put on trial for this novel because of it's anti-Turkish themes. To learn more, go to,,1827872,00.html

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