Friday, May 8, 2015

Elif Shafak: "The bastard of Istanbul"

When passing through "Ataturk" airport in Istanbul, I usually visit a very good bookstore there, where I can equip myself with something to read on intercontinental flights. I was waiting for an occasion to read "The bastard of Istanbul" by Elif Shafak since few years when, in the same shop, I bought her "The forty rules of love", and read it with great pleasure.

"The Bastard..." was her first book, and what a beautiful work it is! It is a family book; she found a format to reach, really, to the whole generational span of a traditional Middle East family...mostly female, that is, somehow I have feeling that "real" men of that region will not read her. Some "effeminate" figures like Orhan Pamuk, yes, undoubtedly.

The book reflects her experience as a global citizen of XXI ct., spans between Turkey and USA, between the heavy topic of mass killings of Armenians at the end of Turkish Empire, and everyday life of American average citizen. Whirls between fantastic connection between families and objects in their life througout the century and half the world distance, between shame and domestic matters, spoken and unspoken... It is a beautiful work, another gem in her collection.

It matches my personal experience of Turkey, where in mountain villages of Central Anatolia I met people as traditional and patriarchal as if they'd pop-out from an Ottoman fairy-tale, and in the same time their children, whom I met in the coastal cities of Turkey, were a modern youth, with perfectly modern longings and experiences.

It is a travel which Turkey started long time ago, and it is still uncertain where it will bring the waters of international affairs are murky beyond recognition. It is not at all obvious to me that the swing of the wordly matters will bring Turkey even closer to the West. Could be that the West will, after a XX ct. drunkenness, will whirl back into its familiar vicious circle of blood and thirst for power, Christian supremacy idiocy and malice towards others. Tribal wars of Europe and post-neo-colonialism, to put it in somewhat worn-out words.

Then, thanks to the sheer power of vivid culture, Turkey will have the sincerity and authority to ditch the corrupt West and East equally, and go further on its own. An Empire is an Empire, and Ottoman was not the least of them, however badly it would crash for a moment.

I was astonished by the gamma of good literature in the bookstore-modern, worthy books, not only some bullshit "Kitchen of the East" trash. Someone must be buying and reading them, thinking about the matters moved there. This, and authors like Elif Shafak give hope, indeed, that the world is poised for more ... intelligent, if not easier times. It becomes obvious that people are not satisfied with their TV set and bowl of rice, potatoes or couscous. There is a longing for more, and good, good, long for more, this world IS beautiful!

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