Longlisted for the 2008 Orange Fiction Prize, Elif Shafak’s The Bastard of Istanbul is a tale of an extraordinary family curse and clashing cultural identities in the mystical and mysterious city of Istanbul.
One rainy afternoon in Istanbul, a woman walks into a doctor’s surgery. ‘I need to have an abortion’, she announces. She is nineteen years old and unmarried. What happens that afternoon will change her life.
Twenty years later, Asya Kazanci lives with her extended family in Istanbul. Due to a mysterious family curse, all the Kazanci men die in their early forties, so it is a house of women, among them Asya’s beautiful, rebellious mother Zeliha, who runs a tattoo parlour; Banu, who has newly discovered herself as clairvoyant; and Feride, a hypochondriac obsessed with impending disaster. And when Asya’s Armenian-American cousin Armanoush comes to stay, long hidden family secrets connected with Turkey’s turbulent past begin to emerge.
About the Dialogue Society Book Group
The Dialogue Society Book Group explores the capacity of books to provide windows into different cultural and intercultural worlds. We will be choosing a series of quality novels to read and then to discuss together at relaxed, sociable gatherings at the Dialogue Society. Participants are welcome to suggest books for future sessions.
Participants will need to find a copy of the book chosen for each meeting, and will need to read it prior to the meeting. Books will generally be available from local libraries.
Over refreshments we will have a conversation about the book and our responses to it. Discussion may cover:
- the quality of the storytelling
- the authenticity and accuracy with which a historical/cultural situation is portrayed
- our personal responses to it
You do not need to be an expert on literature or anything else to join in. The group should be enjoyable for anyone who enjoys a good book and likes discovering new ones.