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The Bastard of Istanbul | [Elif Shafak]

The Bastard of Istanbul

In her second novel written in English, Elif Shafak confronts her country's violent past in a vivid and colorful tale set in both Turkey and the United States. At its center is the "bastard" of the title, Asya, a 19-year-old woman who loves Johnny Cash and the French Existentialists, and the four sisters of the Kazanci family who all live together in an extended household in Istanbul.
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Publisher's Summary

In her second novel written in English, Elif Shafak confronts her country's violent past in a vivid and colorful tale set in both Turkey and the United States.

At its center is the "bastard" of the title, Asya, a 19-year-old woman who loves Johnny Cash and the French Existentialists, and the four sisters of the Kazanci family, who all live together in an extended household in Istanbul. They include Zehila, the zestful, headstrong youngest sister, who runs a tattoo parlor and is Asya's mother; Banu, who has newly discovered herself as a clairvoyant; Cevriye, a widowed high-school teacher; and Feride, a hypochondriac obsessed with impending disaster. Their one (estranged) brother lives in Arizona with his wife and her Armenian daughter, Armanoush. When Armanoush secretly flies to Istanbul in search of her identity, she finds the Kazanci sisters and becomes fast friends with Asya. A secret is uncovered that links the two families and ties them to the 1915 Armenian deportations and massacres.

Full of vigorous, unforgettable female characters, The Bastard of Istanbul is a bold, powerful tale that will confirm Shafak as a rising star of international fiction.

©2007 Elif Shafak; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Beautifully imagined....This wonderful new novel carried me away." (The Chicago Tribune)
"A saucy, witty, dramatic, and affecting tale in the spirit of novels by Amy Tan, Julia Alvarez, and Bharati Mukherjee." (New York Newsday)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (147 )
5 star
 (35)
4 star
 (46)
3 star
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2 star
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Overall
3.5 (36 )
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Story
3.6 (36 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Vivienne Jacksonville, FL, USA 04-20-07
    Vivienne Jacksonville, FL, USA 04-20-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
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    "Istanbul lives"

    Having been to Istanbul recently, this book brought back a lot of memories. The place is alive, in real life as in the book. The story for me was a little slow at first, the characters didn't really come to life until the second half of the book- but when they did, it was wonderful.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Marietta, GA, United States 11-07-07
    Barbara Marietta, GA, United States 11-07-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A tender gift from far away"

    I was pleasantly surprised at the warmth and humor in this novel. The author's gift for language is extraordinary, and she manages to convey the lives of Turkish women of multiple generations in a manner that conveys all of their humanity, wit and resourcefulness. The characters remain very true to themselves throughout the book. While there isn't a sneaky "surprise" ending, this isn't meant to be a whodunit. There is a mystery to be resolved, and the story wraps up nicely. The gentle insertion of the recent histories of the Turkish and Armenian people, which plays so heavily in the lives of those people in every day life, is a boon to the average American reader.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nvgolfdude Pacific Time Zone, USA 07-16-07
    nvgolfdude Pacific Time Zone, USA 07-16-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
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    "Interesting Theme"

    This was a very well written book with a complex plot, characters, and a surprise message. I would highly recommend it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lanakila Holly Springs, NC, USA 08-21-07
    Lanakila Holly Springs, NC, USA 08-21-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    "Passed the Time Nicely"

    This book passed the time nicely enough during my 2 hour daily commute, but it wasn't exactly riveting. The characters were fleshed out nicely and the author captured the oddities that families endure, and learn to endear, but the end was easy enough to see coming.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine M. Lehar 01-13-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Delightful characters"
    What did you love best about The Bastard of Istanbul?

    Colorful characters


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Bastard of Istanbul?

    When sitting together eating, the family scene is so real to me


    What does Laural Merlington bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I'm not good at processing orally, but this reader's voice is musicale


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yea


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Lakeville, CT, United States 03-27-08
    Mary Lakeville, CT, United States 03-27-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "History 101"

    Throughout this book I could not get away from the feeling that the author's sole objective was to write about the history of the Armenian genocide in Turkey. The story was a vehicle for her history lesson and she manipulated it to enable the characters to give political speeches. The narrative stops dead with each one of these. She deals well, however, with the longing and search for identity of people from mixed cultures and the suffocating intimacy of these Middle Eastern families. The most interesting part for me was the depiction of how family experiences and retold history can shape younger generations' attitudes and beliefs in the same way that nations can manipulate access to information to do the same thing. The attachment to victimhood as part of a national, cultural identity, even when no longer justified, was an interesting aspect. I found many of the characters implausable, unappealing, and/or irritating. The second half of the book was far more engaging than the beginning as she got more focused on the narrative.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John herndon, VA, USA 09-16-09
    John herndon, VA, USA 09-16-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "great story, very irritating narrator"

    a well thought of story that is full of culture and history. As for the narrator (with all due respect), she got me so irritated listening to her trying to imitate foreign accents, imitate male voices, pronouncing Turkish and Armenians names, ethnic food...etc. For some reason the narrator stopped using her fake and irritating accent for people in Istanbul. That was a great relief for my ears but made me wonder why she chose to talk in a heavy accent reading speeches by Armenian Americans in the US. I am not sure how many more "Anti Banu" phrase i could handle pronouncing the Banu in a such an irritating way!!!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shery austell, GA, United States 10-27-09
    Shery austell, GA, United States 10-27-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Bastard of Istanbul"

    The book that you never forget!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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