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The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak download in ePub, pdf, iPad

Likened to the work of Amy Tan, Shafak's prose is much more philosophical and lyrical, and her themes are less dramatic for drama's sake. In the first five chapters, rather like Robert Altman in Short Cuts, Shafak presents a series of disconnected scenes and characters that may, possibly, we hope, eventually cohere. There's plenty of plot, too, even if it does mostly come in the final third.

Towards the end I found myself drawing a family tree of the characters in an attempt to get the convoluted relationships straight in my head. Written in English, the novel was published first in Turkey, in translation, where it rapidly became a bestseller. This was a random find in the bookshop and an absolute gem to read, and I highly recommend it. Most troubling of all, Mustapha, Asya's uncle and Armanoush's stepfather, whose actions are central to the plot, remains an enigma.

Shafak makes an effort to show different arguments, as in, why the Turks are so ignorant of this history and why the Armenians are so stubborn to relive it. But what might be invigorating in a city can, in a novel, be a bit bewildering. Struggling to understand herself and what it means to be Armenian, she decides to journey to Turkey and stay with her step-father's family, the Kazanci's. Yes, there's a touch of magic realism in this book that serves it well.

In the event the

Asya Kazanci is the bastard daughter of Zeliha, raised by an eccentric group of aunts and grandmothers in Istanbul. In the event, the charges were thrown out but Shafak's first pregnancy was overshadowed by the possibility of a three-year prison term. The incident generated international concern. It's unquestionably an ambitious book, exuberant and teeming.

Asya Kazanci is