The Bastard of Istanbul

  • by Elif Shafak
  • Narrated by Laural Merlington
  • 12 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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What the Critics Say

"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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Jaxcat

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.
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- Barbara

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-26-2007
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio