The Bastard of Istanbul [NOOK Book]

Overview

Populated with vibrant characters, The Bastard of Istanbul is the story of two families, one Turkish and one Armenian American, and their struggle to forge their unique identities against the backdrop of Turkey's violent history. Filled with humor and understanding, this exuberant, dramatic novel is about memory and forgetting, about the tension between the need to examine ...
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The Bastard of Istanbul

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Overview

Populated with vibrant characters, The Bastard of Istanbul is the story of two families, one Turkish and one Armenian American, and their struggle to forge their unique identities against the backdrop of Turkey's violent history. Filled with humor and understanding, this exuberant, dramatic novel is about memory and forgetting, about the tension between the need to examine the past and the desire to erase it.


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Editorial Reviews

Barry Unsworth
… there is no reconciliation without justice. Elif Shafak's novel brings the possibility of it a step closer, and we are all in her debt for this.
— The Washington Post
USA Today
Zesty, imaginative . . . A Turkish version of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club.
Elle
Shafak's writing is seductive. . . . The Bastard of Istanbul portrays family as more than merely a function of genetics and fate, folding together history and fiction, the personal and the political into a thing of beauty.
New York Newsday
[This] saucy, witty, dramatic, and affecting tale in the spirit of novels by Amy Tan, Julia Alvarez, and Bharati Mukherjee should prove irresistible to readers. . . . A grandly emphatic and spellbinding story.
Chicago Tribune
Beautifully imagined . . . this wonderful new novel carried me away. And reality was different when I returned.
Donna Seaman
Shafak's second novel, a saucy, witty, dramatic and affecting tale in the spirit of novels by Amy Tan, Julia Alvarez, and Bharati Mukherjee, should prove irresistible to readers...Shafak is careful to balance the gravity of her truth-telling mission with humor, until the shocking revelations and resolutions of the concluding chapters. Her charming, smart, and profoundly involving spinning top of a novel dramatizes the inescapability of guilt and punishment, and the inextricable entwinement of Armenians and Turks, East and West, past and present, the personal and the political. By aligning the 'compulsory amnesia' surrounding the crimes in one family with Turkey's refusal to confront past crimes against humanity, Shafak makes the case for truth, reconciliation and remembrance. She also tells a grandly emphatic and spellbinding story.
New York Newsday
Alan Cheuse
Beautifully imagined...it's as much family history as national history that drives this vital and entertaining novel. And it's the powerful and idiosyncratic characters who drive the family history. An, as you hear in your mind's ear, it's Shafak's vibrant language that drives the characters...This wonderful new novel carried me away. And reality was different when I returned.
The Chicago Tribune
Saul Austerlitz
The purposeful ignorance of Shafak's Turks, born out of a willing turning away from past familial horrors, becomes a symbol for the collective Turkish turning away from the horrors of the Armenian genocide. Shafak is incapable of bringing harmony to such unsettled matters, even in the pages of a fiction narrative. All she can do, and does, is shine a light on the past, and keep it shining so that everyone - Turkish, Armenian, and otherwise - must look.
San Francisco Chronicle
Ben Ehrenreich
Worlds collide and find themselves already interwoven...there's more going on than interfamilial melodrama, and Shafak's ambitions do not stop with an airing of Turkey's century-old dirty laundry...In the end, Shafak resists a tidy wrap-up. She leaves most of her characters in the lurch, abandoning them midcrisis, their dilemmas only deepened with a dose of ambiguity. But how else could she leave them? The point here - and of the ugly fuss that has greeted the book's publication - is that the past is never finished, never neat, and never ours.
The Los Angeles Times
Jennifer Gerson
Shafak's writing is seductive; each chapter of her novel is named for a food, and the warmth of the Turkish kitchen lies at the center of its wide-ranging plot. The Bastard of Istanbul portrays family as more than merely a function of genetics and fate, folding together history and fiction, the personal and the political into a thing of beauty.
Elle Magazine
Amberin Zaman
A deftly spun tale of two families - one Armenian American and the other Turkish - who are burdened by dark secrets and historical tragedies rooted in a common Istanbul past.
The Economist
Sherrie Flick
Through her characters Shafak examines how the stories we love and the stories we tell become who we are. Her writing is beautiful and meaningful and will astound you as you find the many ways to claim the story as, also, your own...This is an important book about forgetting, about retelling stories, about denial, about not knowing your past, about knowing your past, and about choosing (again and again) to start over.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Patricia Corrigan
A fast paced story of love, loss, and coincidence. Shafak writes powerfully of war (cultural and familial), of peace and the meaning of moral fortitude. She possesses a steady hand when it comes to creating strong female characters, and her vivid descriptions of the charms of Istanbul serve to lure the traveler...Shafak's characters linger in the mind days after finishing the book.
St. Louis Post Dispatch
Publishers Weekly
In her second novel written in English (The Saint of Incipient Insanities was the first), Turkish novelist Shafak tackles Turkish national identity and the Armenian "question" in her signature style. In a novel that overflows with a kitchen sink's worth of zany characters, women are front and center: Asya Kazanci, an angst-ridden 19-year-old Istanbulite is the bastard of the title; her beautiful, rebellious mother, Zeliha (who intended to have an abortion), has raised Asya among three generations of complicated and colorful female relations (including religious clairvoyant Auntie Banu and bar-brawl widow, Auntie Cevriye). The Kazanci men either die young or take a permanent hike like Mustafa, Zeliha's beloved brother who immigrated to America years ago. Mustafa's Armenian-American stepdaughter, Armanoush, who grew up on her family's stories of the 1915 genocide, shows up in Istanbul looking for her roots and for vindication from her new Turkish family. The Kazanci women lament Armanoush's family's suffering, but have no sense of Turkish responsibility for it; Asya's boho cohorts insist there was no genocide at all. As the debate escalates, Mustafa arrives in Istanbul, and a long-hidden secret connecting the histories of the two families is revealed. Shafak was charged with "public denigration of Turkishness" when the novel was published in Turkey earlier this year (the charges were later dropped). She incorporates a political taboo into an entertaining and insightful ensemble novel, one that posits the universality of family, culture and coincidence. (Jan. 22) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Turkish author Shafak's second English-language novel (after The Saint of Incipient Insanities) asks a profound question: Is it possible for either nations or individuals to live solely in the present, ignoring everything that came before? Set in Istanbul, the book's action takes place mostly in a home shared by four generations of women: middle-aged sisters Banu, Feride, Gevriye, and Zehila Kazanci and their mother, grandmother, and teenaged daughter/niece, Asya. The household's live-and-let-live credo-no one, for example, has ever asked who fathered the "bastard" Asya-comes apart when Amanoush, the Armenian-American stepdaughter of the sisters' estranged brother, comes for a visit. The 1915 Turkish massacre and deportation of Armenians and the country's failure to confront its murderous past butts up against secrets that have fractured the Kazanci family for generations. Despite heavy themes, Shafak is often funny, and her weaving of recipes and folk tales into the text makes it both enlightening and entertaining. While this alone would recommend the novel, that Shafak was recently acquitted of the charge of "denigrating Turkishness" because of her frank look at Turkish-Armenian antipathy makes it essential reading. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/06.]-Eleanor J. Bader, Brooklyn, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An astonishingly rich and lively story of an Istanbul family whose mixed up heritage mirrors the complexity of Turkish society. Shafak (The Gaze, 2006), whom the Turkish government has put on trial for "denigrating Turkishness," writes here about the 1915 massacre of Armenians. The four Kazanci sisters live together with their mother and paternal grandmother in Istanbul, their bother Mustafa having been sent to Arizona as a young man to avoid the Kazanci curse: The men of the family tend to die by age 41. When the youngest sister, rebellious Zeliha, has a daughter out of wedlock, she refuses to name the father. Calling Zeliha auntie although she knows their relationship, Aysa grows up in this household of women. Zeliha runs a tattoo parlor; her sisters include a devout Muslim seer, a nationalistic history teacher and a batty feminist. To escape her doting aunts and grandmothers, Aysa hangs out with coffeehouse intellectuals, including a cartoonist indicted by the government for cartoons mocking the prime minister. Defensive about her lack of a father, Aysa takes an existential view of life that denies the importance of the past. Meanwhile in America, Armanoush is born to an Armenian father and American mother. After her parents divorce, Armanoush's mother marries Mustafa, who barely acknowledges his Turkish roots. Armanoush spends large chunks of her childhood with her father's loving Armenian family, which clings to history and long simmering bitterness against the Turks. Increasingly drawn to her Armenian roots, Armanoush travels to Istanbul (without telling her parents) to learn more of her family history. She stays with the Kazancis, who are astounded when she tells them what Turksdid to Armenians. As Asya and Armanoush become friends, myths-ethnic, familial and personal-explode. Despite a misstep into melodrama concerning Mustafa, Shafak handles her large cast of characters and plotting with finesse. A hugely ambitious exploration of complex historical realities handled with an enchantingly light touch.
From the Publisher
"Laural Merlington has the skills to bring this complex, intriguing story to life." —-AudioFile
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440635847
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/29/2008
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 187,150
  • File size: 553 KB

Meet the Author

Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak, an award-winning, bestselling novelist and the most widely read female writer in Turkey, is the author of The Gaze and The Saint of Incipient Insanities.

Laural Merlington has recorded well over one hundred audiobooks, including works by Margaret Atwood and Alice Hoffman, and is the recipient of several AudioFile Earphones Awards. An Audie Award nominee, she has also directed over one hundred audiobooks.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 26 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2008

    The best book ive read so far this year

    I picked this book up randomly at B&N, a bit curious given the title. Istanbul has always been on the list of places I want to travel to. Reading this book, I felt like I was there. The family bond that you read is so touching. The passion these people are about their ancestors and culture is amazing. All the characters in this book are so realistic. I have already recommended this book to several people. This book hit my itch to read a book culturally rich. I have put Istanbul on the top of my list and will travel there as soon as its possible. I will definitely read another book from this author!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2007

    A reviewer

    I always wanted to travel to Istanbul, and the descriptions of the sisters living in that city are fascinating. The story behind Armanoush's Armenian family is sad, yet hopeful. The plot moved quickly, and the ending is quite a surprise. It's got a little bit of romance, mystery, suspense and historical significance. What a great read this was. I highly, highly recommend this to all. I'm surprised it's not on the bestseller list. Oh, and kudos for the author who had the guts to write this as a Turkish woman about the Armenian genocide. I'm glad she didn't end up in jail. So, folks, take advantage of your freedom to read 'anything' and buy this book, or check it out of the library.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2010

    A good read

    I enjoyed this book very much. It was my first read of Ms Shafaks' work, having read recommendations from Paul Theroux in his lastest book. I am happy to say I enjoyed this one far more than I did one by her national colleague, Orhan Pamuk. If you're sampling Turkish writers, this is a good place to start. A bit of a chick flick, but the writing carries you along since it is a great story, thoughtfully told.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Beware: The Story is Not True to Its Billing

    It is so hard to rate this book because I felt differently about different parts of the book:

    Beginning (Ch 1-5) 2 Stars
    Middle (Ch 6 - 14) 4 Stars
    End (Ch 14-18) 1 Star

    The Bastard of Istanbul is billed as a story of two families, one Armenian and one Turk, tied together by a secret related to the 1915 Armeian deportation and massacre. This portion of the story is very good. Unfortunately, this is a minor part of the story wtih the crux being disgusting and so unrelated to promising premise that you have to wonder if Shafak is simply going for shock value. The story is really about secrets and the destruction of those lies needed to keep that secret .

    The Kazanci family from Istanbul is a family with a curse. The men in the family die young. In current day Istanbul four generations of women live together with the exception of one brother who was sent to America in an attempt to protect him from the curse. Each of these women differ vastly in personality. Petit Ma is the gentle matriarch who now suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. Mother Gulsum is akin to Ivan the Terrible. Oldest sister Banu the clairvoyant, Sister Cevriye high school history teacher, Sister Feride is dealing with mental illness resulting in paranoia, rebel Zeliha, and the daughter she bore out of wedlock, Asya co-exist despite their vast differences.

    Brother Mustafa marries an American girl named Rose. Rose is a divorced mother of one daughter, Amy (Armanoush). Armanoush's father's family is Armenian and never approved of the American marriage with an Odar. The Armenian famiy are surivivors of the 1915 genocide. Originally Rose dates Mustafa seeking revenge on her ex Armenian in-laws but gradually a sincere love is formed. Armanoush, struggling with her conflicting cultural pasts, secretly travels to Istanbul to stay with her step-father's family to learn more of her Armenian heritage. The visit brings to light a litany of secrets impacting both families.

    Possible Spoiler:

    Late in the book we learn that Asya is not the result of her mother's rebelious streak but rather a very oddly constructed rape. The choice for the perpetrator is disgusting and doesn't add anything to the story. It is very disappointing that Shafak took the story in that direction and really ruined the book for me personally.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2011

    .

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  • Posted September 3, 2011

    Not good...

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 28, 2011

    Worth more than 5 *s!

    I read this book in less than a week. So far it's the best Elif Shafak's book I have read. I like the way she blends fiction, history and culture all together. It gave me some insight about my bf's cultural background.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2009

    Liked It!

    Kind of slow but good ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2008

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    Posted February 9, 2014

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    Posted April 11, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2009

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    Posted March 18, 2010

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    Posted May 28, 2009

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    Posted July 19, 2010

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    Posted May 26, 2011

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    Posted January 17, 2010

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    Posted May 14, 2011

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    Posted February 14, 2009

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