When Orhan's brilliant and eccentric grandfather - a man who built a dynasty out of making kilim rugs - is found dead, submerged in a vat of dye, Orhan inherits the decades-old business. But his grandfather's will raises more questions than answers.
Kemal has left the family estate to a stranger, thousands of miles away, an aging woman in an Armenian retirement home in Los Angeles. Her existence and secrecy about her past only deepen the mystery of why Orhan's grandfather would have willed their home in Turkey to an unknown woman rather than to his own son or grandson.
Left with only Kemal's ancient sketchbook and intent on righting this injustice, Orhan boards a plane to Los Angeles. There, over many meetings, he will not only unearth the story that 87-year-old Seda so closely guards, but discover that Seda's past now threatens to unravel his future. It's a story that, if told, has the power to undo the legacy upon which his family is built.
Moving back and forth in time, between the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the 1990s, Orhan's Inheritance is a story of passionate love, unspeakable horrors, incredible resilience, and the hidden stories that haunt a family.
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Lovely and sad
This story was so lovely and sad. For me it underlined how cruel humans can be to their neighbors and how damaging ignoring history is to a people. I'm of African-American descent and we struggle with many of the same types of issues the characters in this novel face. Our history, too, remains rewritten, ignoring or whitewashing the horrors our ancestors faced. The relationships between the characters in this novel also mirror the complicated relationships between African-Americans and other Americans. The issue of reparations remains an issue in both contexts.And the blatant disregard for the impact to the communities in the modern era is also common in both situations.
I closed this book with a sense of the universality of the character's experiences. No people is without horrors and tragedies in their collective history. The world is full of bleak, miserable, human on human inhumanity. But there is hope. There is catharsis in telling our stories. There is the potential for understanding and forgiveness in hearing each other. The main character, Orhan, represents everyone's potential experience. At first he isn't interested in hearing the stories of the past. He is forced to endure these lessons through the craftiness of his deceased beloved grandfather. In the end he comes to understand that his own, personal reality is intimately intertwined with that past he wanted to ignore. Freedom from his own demons depends on his opening to those things he feared to understand.
There is much to love and learn from this book. While it is heartwrenchingly sad in parts, it is beautifully told and well worth experiencing the tragedies to get to the other side of a new perspective.
Beautiful and Haunting