Sister Shako and Kolo the Goat: Memories of My Childhood in Turkey

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dalokay (d. 1991), a one-time mayor of Ankara and an architect, offers his reminiscences about growing up as the grandson of the ``landlord'' of a small Turkish village. The translator, a friend of Dalokay's, mentions that this work received a number of literary awards in Turkey and adds that ``the people seemed familiar to me, totally realistic. Yet the story was full of fantasy and poetry.'' Though Ener's smooth, melodic translation preserves the latter elements, these often cryptic vignettes will seem anything but familiar or realistic to American youngsters. Brief tales center on young Dalokay's friendship with Sister Shako, a reclusive, eccentric widow whose life revolves around caring for her seven goats, including the unusual, temperamental Kolo. The narrative is filled with sometimes obscure symbolism as well as references to local customs, expressions and lore (many of which are clarified by footnotes). Adults rather than young readers may well be this book's most appreciative audience. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-An English translation of a title originally published in Turkish in 1979. Memoir, legend, elegy, Sister Shako and Kolo the Goat describes village life in eastern Turkey during the early part of this century. Sister Shako, an old woman whose family was killed in a vendetta, tends goats, including the wily, near-human Kolo. Her exploits and her relationship with the young male narrator are recounted in short, independent chapters; the incidents are funny, clever, and heartbreaking in turn. Near the end of the book, when Sister Shako dies, Kolo and her herd disappear. A spring gushes forth to mark the spot where they were last seen. Then, as part of a modernization program, a dam is built, the area flooded, and the village itself disappears. The narrator, who has gone on to become the mayor of Ankara, recalls Sister Shako and ponders the significance of her life. Inevitably, this type of story tends toward sentimentality, but Dalokay-with the aid of his translator-saves it with the vividness of his memories and the lyricism of his language. Just as Gaye Hicyilmaz's Against the Storm (Little, 1992) presents an unforgettable slice of urban life in Turkey, so Sister Shako provides a picture of peasant culture, revealing its strength, its earthiness, its identification with all living things.-Ellen D. Warwick, Winchester Public Library, MA
Kay Weisman
In spare yet lyrical prose, Dalokay--an architect and ex-mayor of Ankara--fondly recalls his boyhood in eastern Turkey. Focusing on his relationship with Sister Shako, a poor, elderly widow, he paints a picture of daily life for Muslim herders in the late 1930s. Although Sister Shako has lost her husband, sons, home, and possessions, she asks for nothing except the use of a small hut, so that she and her six goats can live in harmony with nature. She shares her food, indomitable spirit, and trials and small triumphs with 10-year-old Dalokay. The ending, in which the youth's village is submerged under a lake when a dam is built for a hydroelectric plant, is particularly poignant. Ener's translation successfully captures many regional idioms and sayings; those with obscure meanings are explained in carefully worded footnotes. A fascinating account of a disappearing way of life.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688132712
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/1/1994
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Lexile: 950L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.51 (d)

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