BOOK REVIEWS

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

A whimsical and moving tale that spans through the most difficult times. To say that the focus of this novel is of the contemporary troubled relationship between Armenians and Turks is reductive. Shafak’s writing is incredibly evocative: she brings to life smells, sounds, cultures and cities. Her descriptions envelope you transporting you straight into her story.
Her characters are as colorful and vivid as their scenery: they all have many quirks and mannerism that make them somewhat unique. There are a few passages dedicated to simply exploring what Asya’s aunties – aka the Kazanci women – dream of at night. This – to me – made them all the more alive. The story itself is about identity and the part that our own past can play on it. It is a novel that challenges you: it asks questions you wish you could avoid or you simply know that you could never truly know the answer to. There is no right or wrong, no easy resolutions.
I wish that Zeliha’s relationship with her partner could have been explored more: Shafak could have spared a chapter to them. Also Shafak tends to lose herself in certain anecdotes. There are a few insertions of certain events that I did not feel added anything to the actual storyline.
Nevertheless Shafak’s writing story is both alluring and inspirational.

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

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