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.