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Bliss | [O.Z. Livaneli]

Bliss

In rural Turkey, Meryem is raped by her uncle. Outcast for shaming her family, she is expected to kill herself. Her commando cousin instead tells her he will take her to Istanbul. By chance, they meet Irfan, a celebrity professor who has left his wife, and the three embark on a journey that shows what unexpected things can happen in the space between wounded people.
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Publisher's Summary

Already an international best seller, this lyrical and moving story embodies the sweep and contradictions of modern Turkey. In a rural Turkish village, young Meryem is raped by her uncle, a sheikh in a dervish order. Outcast for shaming her family, she is locked in the cellar, where she is expected to kill herself. But she is defiant.

Her commando cousin, Cemal, with whom she grew up, has returned a hero from fighting terrorists in the mountains. It is he who is chosen to execute his cousin outside the town, telling her he is going to "take her to Istanbul".

In Istanbul, a celebrity professor named Irfan leaves his wife and charters a boat to sail the Aegean. By chance, these three fugitives cross paths and embark on a journey that shows what unexpected things can happen in the space between wounded people. (Translation by Cigdem Aksoy Fromm.)

©2002 O. Z. Livaneli; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Livaneli offers readers a fascinating look at the diversity of Turkey today in his American debut....Highly recommended." (Library Journal)
"[A] romantic yet clear-eyed translation....Livaneli deftly folds his philosophical and political questioning into the psychology of his characters. Eye-opening and deeply moving - essential for anyone looking for decency in the world today." (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (120 )
5 star
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4.1 (35 )
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3.9 (36 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kathleen Burbank, CA, USA 06-11-07
    Kathleen Burbank, CA, USA 06-11-07
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    "A fascinating journey"

    The author guides his characters on a journey of self-discovery, and along the way we gain insight into the traditions, contrasts and conflicts of modern Turkey. Anna Field gives another bravura performance, adding immensely to the listener's enjoyment. The translation was a little weak on the nautical terms, but apart from that minor quibble the book was very enjoyable and added to my understanding of the region.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    gingerpenny95 Fairfield, Ca, United States 06-16-08
    gingerpenny95 Fairfield, Ca, United States 06-16-08 Member Since 2003
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    "If you liked The Kite Runner"

    If you liked the Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, you will enjoy this novel that also takes place in the world of Islam and explores the values and traditions of those people whose treatment of women is so different than those in the West. The author explores fully all stratas of Turkish society.

    The characters were well drawn and a triumphant ending made for a satisfying listen. Anna Fields will be sadly missed as a wonderful narrator.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cora Judd California 03-20-08
    Cora Judd California 03-20-08 Member Since 2007
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    "What a story!"

    I had no preconceived notions about the book or the author and approached 'Bliss' with an open mind. What a delight!

    "Bliss" is a clever mix of modern and ancient with a Hansel & Gretel sense of dread throughout. Livaneli's politics, gender or proclivities aren't in evidence, which I always appreciate in an author.

    If you enjoy Naipal's women, Gaiman's mythology and Chabon's beautiful language, you'll happily lose yourself in "Bliss"

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-16-11
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-16-11 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

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    "A rich tour of Turkey"

    If modern Turkey can be distilled into a novel that plays out a nation's major issues through its three main characters, Bliss is Livaneli's attempt to write that book. There's Meryem, a naive teenage girl from the countryside, who has been raped by her uncle. Then there is her taciturn, sullen cousin, Cemal, who has just returned from fighting Kurdish guerillas in the mountains of eastern Turkey, and is dispatched to kill Meryem on the road, in order to clear the family honor. Meanwhile, Irfan, a famous, if unaccomplished professor from Istanbul, is going through a midlife crisis and flees his posh existence in a sailboat, looking for something to give him new meaning. Eventually, these three find themselves drawn together.

    While such a premise has every possibility of turning into a heavy-handed melodrama, Livaneli writes with a disarming lightness and directness that makes the story engaging. While I suspect that a well-educated Turk might find the book a little lightweight, for an American reader like me, the author's descriptions provided a flavorful portrait of a country struggling at many levels with its sense of identity. We learn much about religion versus secularism, the cosmopolitan elite versus the poor, tradition versus Westernization, ignorance versus education, and a sense of Turkish honor and nationhood that tries and fails to encompass all of the above. Though Livaneli never quite develops his characters beyond the "types" he makes them representatives of, or brings their shared story to an entirely satisfying conclusion, the tour he gives us of their country is a wonderful one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bonnie 08-30-09
    bonnie 08-30-09

    DaWomz

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    "Tough read in "modern" times"

    The basically simple story serves to completely demonstrate the social and economic chasms in Turkey. I couldn't stop listening ..and at the same time wanted it to be over ... all the time haunted by the realization that all over the world there are villages and people who live and believe as depicted in this novel. This is not a story to be taken lightly, even though the author has done as gentle a job as possible revealing societal facts that are easier to ignore than to think about helping change.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom Asheville, NC 04-27-08
    Tom Asheville, NC 04-27-08 Member Since 2003
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    "Revealing"

    Turkey's secular state is threatened today by those seeking to establish a theocracy. It is a country we should learn about. The tale here explores the tension in the clash of the rural, urban, secular and religious aspects of Turkey today.

    The narrator, one of the favorites of Audible, and often one of mine as well, does her job. This time, however, I was struck by the hard tone of her voice.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kerry Muir Yallingup, WA, Au 06-08-12
    Kerry Muir Yallingup, WA, Au 06-08-12 Member Since 2012

    Retired book tragic - audio or written word!

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    "A Window into Turkey"

    I really enjoyed this book especially as it introduced me to a country I know very little about. The differences in the lives of the 3 main characters was amazing. The professor from the city with his worldly ways, the young ex-soldier fresh from the battlefields in the war with the Kurds and his 15 year old cousin, a rape victim under a death sentence. Their individual journeys, and then their time together made this a wonderful experience.

    A very sad postscipt was that I discovered when looking for other books she had narrated, that the wonderful narrator died in a freak drowning accident in 2006.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nina Birmingham AL United States 01-20-11
    nina Birmingham AL United States 01-20-11 Member Since 2007

    Nina

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    "Beautiful storytelling set in a fascinating land"

    This book kept me spellbound. I have visited Turkey, but this provided more information than I have had before about the multitude of cultures there, and how they live. Really fills in some blanks about the cultures from previous reading. Great discussion book. I don't see more by this author in the audible store--would love to read more. Really liked the reader, BTW!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah arroyo grande, CA, United States 12-11-09
    Deborah arroyo grande, CA, United States 12-11-09
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    "Yes, this is Turkey"

    I lived in Turkey for 6 years back in the 60's and I've been fascinated by Livaneli's descriptions of the cities and villages. So much has changed but unfortunately the essential elements of the civilization remain, as Livneli develops in this book. It is a gut wrenching story, sad because women are so badly treated. I haven't quite finished listening to it but I absolutely recommend Bliss to readers who have any interest in the Middle East, in understanding the culture and thoughts of this war torn arena.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Friday Ramstein Air Base, Germany 08-31-09
    S. Friday Ramstein Air Base, Germany 08-31-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Kept me listening"

    I was so anxious to see if Meryem would be able to break away from her village's traditions and live in a modern, secular society that I had to keep listening. I liked the way the author was able to blend in characters from Turkey's secular society with those from poor, uneducated areas. This book fits right in with Birds without Wings and The Bastard of Istanbul.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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