Tuesday, August 27, 2013

5 Things I've Learned from "The Bastard of Istanbul"

"Whatever falls from the sky above, thou shall not curse it..That includes the rain..."


I quite enjoyed reading "The Bastard of Istanbul",  for several reasons. Shafak's style of writing is one I admire, full of powerful images, Turkish folklore and the country's agitated past, and Shafak has quite a unique talent for storytelling. 

The book was published in 2006 and it stirred a public controversy due to the account of the mass killings of the Armenian people by the Ottoman government in the 1920s, recognizing it as a genocide. The writer was accused of insulting the Turkish national identity through the voice of the main character and she was sentenced to three years in prison, but the charges were later dropped. This was the first time I have heard or read about the genocide, and it felt rather strange, just happening after the First World War and people already pretending it did not happen. 

On a more happier note, the book is full of Turkish and Armenian food and sweets and a few of the culinary products were tasted on my trip to Istanbul two years ago, but not ASHURE, which plays such an important part all along the novel. Ashure, or Noah's Pudding is believed to have been made by Noah himself after the flood, with  some of the ingredients that were left. More on its story and the recipe here.  

The third thing I discovered was the story behind djinns, or genies, who can interact with people, (and they do so in the book) and who have free will and can do good or bad. 

Dervishes were not something new to me, since I have read about them and I also saw them dancing and whirling in a wonderful show back in Istanbul, but the book stresses once more their importance in the Turkish culture. 

 One cannot mention Turkish elements of culture without some linguistic examples, and SEREFE seems quite an interesting one. It means "Cheers!" and you can learn more about its history here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

All Hail the Queen!

                   Happy Birthday to Madonna!

Friday, August 9, 2013

What my Favorite Writer Is Reading...

Have you ever wondered what your favorite writers are reading? I have, and weeks ago Jeanette Winterson wrote about what she recommended as some of the best releases of this year. All five are memoirs and this was quite foreseeable mainly because Jeanette herself wrote a wonderful memoir two years ago - Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? - and I am sure she wanted to check if others are better at this :) Jeanette, without doubt yours is the best :)
I checked what the five books are all about and there are two that I may think about reading somewhere in the future: "She Left Me the Gun" and "A Fort of Nine Towers". The rest don't seem to intrigue me...

The Wave A profoundly moving, piercingly frank memoir of learning to live with grief--that begins in Sri Lanka on Dec. 26, 2004, when the author lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived.
A Fort of Nine Towers A young Afghan man's searing and redemptive memoir of his family and country. Omar survived imprisonment and opened a secret carpet factory to provide work for girls who were forbidden to go to leave their homes. Inflected with folktales, steeped in poetry, this book is a life-affirming triumph.
Bad Boy Renowned American artist Fischl has written a penetrating, often searing exploration of his coming of age as an artist, and his search for a fresh narrative style in the highly charged and competitive New York art world in the 1970s and 1980s.
She Left Me the Gun When Emma Brockes was ten years old, her mother said 'One day I will tell you the story of my life and you will be amazed.' Growing up in a tranquil English village, Emma knew very little of her mother's life before her. She knew Paula had grown up in South Africa and had seven siblings.
I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp The sharp, lyrical, and no-holds-barred memoir of the iconoclastic writer and musician--progenitor of American and British punk rock--which charts the coming of age of an artist and an indelible era in rock & roll history.