Tuesday, February 12, 2008


So, I haven't blogged in a while. I've read a ton, but there are several major projects in life, work, and school right now, so... ergh. BUT! I bring you a special report. We will soon return to our regularly scheduled blathering.

So, before I go home and watch to see how the rest of my state voted (dude, it took me nearly 45 minutes this morning!) I'm off to Politics & Prose in DC to see Elif Shafak. I'm really super excited.

So, here I bring you a review of

The Bastard of Istanbul Elif Shafak

Family secrets, denied history and national identity all come to play as two families, as well as the past and present collide.

It's hard to explain the plot without just going on and on and on and on and on.

You have one girl, Asya, who lives with her mother, three aunts, her grandmother, and great-grandmother in Istanbul. She's an angry woman, I think she symbolizes Istanbul well-- modern and thinking she's Western, but pulled to the East and the past by tradition. (One that Asya at least tries to deny. It's easier to deny your past when you don't know who your father is.) All the men in her family die early. She has an uncle that was sent to America to try and break the curse.

You have another, Armanoush, who is Armenian-American, but with a Turkish step-father. In an attempt to understand her Armenian-ness, as well as the genocide and deportation that colors her Armenian family's view of everything, Armanoush runs off to Istanbul, where she stays with her step-father's family.

There's a lot more to it than that, trust me. The two family histories are complicatedly entwined, with the narrative jumping place and time on a regular basis.

More than anything, Shafak has wonderful characters, a love for Istanbul while still admitting her faults, a light touch with magical realism, and a good sense of finding the humor in the absurdities of everyday life.

Shafak was charged with insulting Turkish identity because of her discussion of the Armenian genocide. Luckily, the charges were dropped.

I really liked it and can't wait to read her other stuff.

Hopefully, if you're in the DC area, you can get to P&P in time to catch this event!

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