Honour has been sitting on my bookshelf for the longest time and for some reason I never felt the urge to pick it up until adding it as part of my TBR Pile Challenge 2014 - and was pleasantly surprised.
This is a story of a Turkish family moving to London. Cultures, personalities and beliefs collapse hard.
If London were a confection, it would be a butterscotch toffee - rich, intense and traditional. Istanbul, however, would be a chewy black-cherry liquorice - a mixture of conflicting tastes, capable of turning the sour into sweet and the sweet into sour. /p. 75/
The book covers plenty of tough topics (violence, alcohol and gambling addiction, mistreatment of women, racism, for example), and in that sense it is not an easy or pleasant read. It is one of those books I personally appreciate because it is so thought provoking.
For example - what does it mean if you are part of a family that lives by tradition and past, but where one or two elder family members go and break those traditions? How would it be for an elder son of such family if father left? Iskender is very young, yet he finds himself in situation where his life is full of conclict between different cultures, his father has left and mother has been seen with another man - what is he to do? Iskender feels the responsibility and expectations of immediate and extended family. He does not make a good choice, but it's not possible to hate him for it, I think.
I thought long and hard about the quote
Not everyone would understand this, but their honour was all that some men had in this world. /p. 153/
It made me grind teeth to think that in some cultures honour might be more valuable that human feelings or human life. This quote says "some men" not "some people". It feels like under the slogan of honour, performing violent and abusive acts would be justified.
All in all, that book made me feel very lucky and very privileged. To live in the world where I do not have to think about arranged marriage, where the sole purpose of my life is not serving men. To be able to make my own decisions, to live my life the way I want. To not be a target of racist comments. But even so, it is important to acknowledge that not all of us are in such position.
This does sound very thought-provoking. Tough reads can definitely be very important reads, even if they are not the easiest to stomach when reading about injustices such as racism and the mistreatment of women. Great review.ReplyDelete
Yes, I think the same way. Sometimes it's more tempting to pick a book that you know is going to only lift your spirits (and nothing wrong with that), but in the end it's these kinds of stories that are more realistic and teach you more about life and its different aspects.Delete
This review makes me feel guilty - I got a review copy of this book over a year ago and still haven't read it. I don't know why, because it sounds really good! I like books that tackle tough issues and it sounds like this one definitely does.ReplyDelete
I don't know why I put this book off for so long either because once I started reading it, it went really fast. I definitely recommend you to give it a try if you have time for it.Delete
that sounds like a very interesting book. i like reading books that make me think and contemplate values that i take for granted. thanks for the review!ReplyDelete
I was also pleasantly surprised by how deep this book was, and Shafak writes very well too, so all in all it's a pretty good book and definitely worth a try, I think.Delete
I've been meaning to read Elif Shafak for a while. I don't know if this'll be the one I go with, because it does sound really sad, but I suppose her other books are probably equally or nearly equally difficult to read.ReplyDelete
I haven't looked into her other books, but I definitely keep her name in mind and when I see her book, I will probably pick it up. It's some tough topics but in the end I felt more enlightened when I finished the book.Delete
I think I DNF'd this in the end. I really liked the style and the subject was interesting but there was something missing for me. But that quote about honour....well...ReplyDelete
I remember you said you didn't finish it and that was I think a contributing factor to why I kept off from this book for so long. I think it's not a book for everyone and I can totally see that there are things about it that make people not want to read it!Delete
I also have this book, and i appreciated it.. and i liked your review, especially the quote.. :) It is dramatic story about families, immigrants, love, misunderstandings, loyalty and betrayal.. and i would recommend it..ReplyDelete