The Bastard of Istanbul

Narrated by: Laural Merlington
Length: 12 hrs and 38 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
4 out of 5 stars (309 ratings)

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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting Theme

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

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful Book, Poor Narration

If you could sum up The Bastard of Istanbul in three words, what would they be?

Beautifully written book that grasped my attention from the very first page and kept me engaged until the end. I was left wanting more at the end.

What other book might you compare The Bastard of Istanbul to and why?

I can compare this book to And The Mountains Echoed. It is written in much the same style, covering generations and periods of war.

How could the performance have been better?

The story carried it self, otherwise I would be very annoyed by the narrator. Her pronunciation of many significant Turkish words were particularly cringe worthy. I can say this from experience as one of the characters is given my own name and I had to bare it being pronounced wrong and in various ways through out the book.

If you could rename The Bastard of Istanbul, what would you call it?

I would not pick any other name, but if I had to choose...The Women of Istanbul

Any additional comments?

I felt the last chapter was condensed and the ending left me wanting more.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

another wonderful story from shafak

Sad, engaging and inspiring, The Bastard of Istanbul hooked me quickly. The story is of strong women and touches apon the Armenian deportation from Turkey. If you are going to visit Turkey, read a couple of El if Shafak's novels as a wonderful introduction to the rich history and culture of this country. Perhaps you will fall in love with it, as I have.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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!!!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Captivating

A Brilliant author and a
talented narrator.I greatly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it .

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Devastating Story

Well worth the journey. Ms Shafak is a marvel. Narration really brought characters to life!