Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Şafak

The Bastard of Istanbul is a story of two families whose fates mix together. The main characters are two 19 years old girls – Asya Kazanci whose family, due to the curse, consists mainly of women (men die in the young age), living in Istambul with four excentric aunts, grandmother and greatgrandmother. All women differ in characters and belifs, yet live piecefully and in love together. The second girl is Armanoush Tchakhmakhchian, an American of Armenian decent. Her father is Armenian and her mother a simple but warm woman from Arizona, who after divorce marries a Turkish man. In search of her cultural roots and family past, Armanoush goes for a journey to Istanbul where she stayes with her step-father’s family – the Kazanci women.

This is a nice, lightly written novel, although it touches the problem of Armenian-Turkish conflict (for which Elif Şafak was brought to trial) and presents a painful family secret. It acquaints the reader with Turkish culture and the life of Istanbul. You know these books that take you to the places they describe and it feels like you can touch and smell them like you really were there? This is the case with The Bastard of Istanbul. It smells with spices from Istanbulian market and sounds with the buzz of the streets. While reading I was sure I’d hear a scream of raisins seller through a window for a moment. In the novel there’s also place for magic and mystery. You discover how everything is connected with each other step by step and how it all leads to an ending in which the significant role plays one Turkish dessert, which ingredients compose the titles of the chapters.


  1. Very nice review and I feel like I want to read the book too. Very interesting story. Hopefully I manage to find the book somewhere here :)

  2. Thank you^^ It's a nice read really.

  3. This sounds like a good book and I love books where you can imagine yourself there or want to experience it for yourself at some time in your life.