Honor: A Novel

( 7 )

Overview

An honor killing shatters and transforms the lives of Turkish immigrants in 1970s London

Internationally bestselling Turkish author Elif Shafak’s new novel is a dramatic tale of families, love, and misunderstandings that follows the destinies of twin sisters born in a Kurdish village. While Jamila stays to become a midwife, Pembe follows her Turkish husband, Adem, to London, where they hope to make new lives for themselves and their children.

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Honor: A Novel

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Overview

An honor killing shatters and transforms the lives of Turkish immigrants in 1970s London

Internationally bestselling Turkish author Elif Shafak’s new novel is a dramatic tale of families, love, and misunderstandings that follows the destinies of twin sisters born in a Kurdish village. While Jamila stays to become a midwife, Pembe follows her Turkish husband, Adem, to London, where they hope to make new lives for themselves and their children.

In London, they face a choice: stay loyal to the old traditions or try their best to fit in. After Adem abandons his family, Iskender, the eldest son, must step in and become the one who will not let any shame come to the family name.  And when Pembe begins a chaste affair with a man named Elias, Iskender will discover that you could love someone with all your heart and yet be ready to hurt them.

Just published to great acclaim in England, Honor is a powerful, gripping exploration of guilt and innocence, loyalty and betrayal, and the trials of the immigrant, as well as the love and heartbreak that too often tear families apart.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Shafak (The Bastard of Istanbul) grips the reader from the opening page when, in 1992, Iskender Toprek is finally released from an English prison, to be picked up by his sister Esma. As Esma narrates the shifts in time, space, and perspective, it is soon revealed that Iskender was incarcerated for the murder of his own mother; the details of how and why shared in flashbacks from various members of the Toprek family, Turkish/Kurdish immigrants in 1970s London. Adem, the father, has "abandoned his family for a dancer," while mother Pembe has had an affair of her own. In a school with few immigrant students, only daughter Esma attempts to fit in; youngest son Yunus falls in with a group of squatters who distrust the government, and Iskender attempts to take on the role of protecting his family after Adem leaves the household. Quotidian events in each character's life begin to mesh and Esma tries to make sense of the murder, but they culminate with a surprising turn. Shafak's wonderfully expressive prose, sprinkled throughout with Turkish words and phrases, brings the characters to life in such a way that readers will feel they are living the roles. Agent: Elizabeth Sheinkman, William Morris Endeavor (UK) (Mar.)
Library Journal
When a murder among a family of Turkish immigrants is committed in London, it is clear from the outset that Iskender Toprak has killed his mother; it soon becomes apparent that he did so for reasons of "honor," as Pembe was believed to be having an extramarital affair. Utilizing multiple narrators and a nonchronological structure, Shafak creates a mosaic of three generations of a family and reveals the history of abuse that led to the murder. Culture clashes—Turkish versus Kurdish, rural versus urban, Eastern versus Western cultural norms and expectations—are ongoing themes in this novel set against a backdrop of the political and cultural turmoil of 1970s London. VERDICT The nonlinear structure and lack of a central character create a somewhat disjointed reading experience, especially at first. But as the characters and their stories become more familiar, Shafak's unconventional style offers moments of surprise. A major plot twist toward the end pushes the limits of plausibility, but overall this is a worthy addition to a growing body of literature from authors with Middle Eastern roots. [See Prepub Alert, 9/24/12.]—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs, Minneapolis
Kirkus Reviews
Turkish novelist Shafak again explores sociopolitical issues within a deeply human context in this tragedy about how traditional Turkish Muslim attitudes toward women impact a family that has immigrated to England. "My mother died twice," is the novel's telling first line, spoken in 1992 London by educated, assimilated Esma on her way to pick up her brother Iskender from the prison where he's been incarcerated since 1978 for the murder of their mother, Pembe. The killing is a given. The drama lies in what led to such violence, which Shafak explains through the history of Pembe and her husband, Adem, with whom she moved to London, of their three children who have grown up in England, and of Pembe's twin sister, Jamila, who has stayed behind in rural Turkey. Pembe has always been the more adventurous sister, Jamila the dreamy, spiritual one. Originally, Adem falls in love with Jamila, but she is already promised to an elderly man from the family that kidnapped her and therefore compromised her honor. Seeing him as a means of escaping to a larger world, Pembe convinces Adem to marry her instead. They move to London. By the late 1970s, Adem has gambled away their savings and deserted Pembe to live with his mistress. To make ends meet, she takes a job at a hair salon and begins to blossom. Bookish Esma and handsome Iskender struggle as teens to find their place in British society, but British-born 7-year-old Yunus is thoroughly British. A magical child, innocent yet wise beyond his years, Yunus becomes the mascot for a group of hippies in a nearby squat. Then Pembe meets a nice man and falls in love. Never mind that Adem is living with his mistress; Iskender feels compelled to save the family's honor. But 14 years later, Iskender and Esma must come to terms with past actions. Shafak turns what might seem a polemic against honor killing in lesser hands into a searing but empathetic and ultimately universal family tragedy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143125044
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 2/25/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 381,566
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak’s books include the novels The Bastard of Istanbul and The Forty Rules of Love and the memoir Black Milk, and her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.  Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages.  She has appeared on NPR, and the BBC, and at the TED conference.  She lives in London and Istanbul. 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

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1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2013

    Not one review prior to 7/17 is about the book - all are just te

    Not one review prior to 7/17 is about the book - all are just texters looking for a thrill. Despite the 5 star ratings, this book has not been reviewed yet. BN - start being responsible for this book review process. Texters - start being responsible for your self and quit messing up a really good thing for Barnes and Noble.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2013

    ?..

    Wow. This is so sad. WHY THE HELL DO YOU WANT TO HAVE SEX!!!! IT CAN RUIN YOUR LIFE IF IT DOESNT SUCK ALREADY!!!. Oh, i frequently post on bible for teens, so talk to you there.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2014

    I love the way this author expresses herself and writes. I have

    I love the way this author expresses herself and writes. I have enjoyed most of her books, the book Istanbul was wonderful to but it helps if you have lived there and can identify with the book. I enjoyed this book, very much and it is a touchy subject to write about specially in those corners of the world, where pride and honor are so guarded. Great Author, always look forward to what she will write next.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2013

    Darkstar

    Honor i just wanted u to know i am sorry for calling u a disgrace.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2013

    To below

    Yes yes i am y?

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2013

    To below

    U a girl

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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