Yet another eye-opener - This time, I got to know about the relations between Turkey and Armenia. The basis of this story is the political tension between Turkey and Armenia stemming from the Armenian Genocide that occured in 1915 (as claimed by Armenia. Turkey refuses to acknowledge the fact that such an event ever happened during the waning of the ottoman empire). To get a perspective: Turkey and Armenia share as land border as shown in the map below (Orange = Turkey, Green = Armenia).
Interestingly, the land border is closed today and no relations exist between Turkey and Armenia!(I definitely did not know that!).
This was yet another stop for me during my Orbis Terrarum Challenge. Though the book is set in Istanbul (the capital city of Turkey) and the author is Turkish, I would like to label this post as Turkey & Armenia because there's so much to learn about Armenian culture, the political beliefs and their way of life as well from this book.
An Armenian-American girl makes a trip to Istanbul in an attempt to discover herself by discovering her roots. She "invites herself" to her step dad's family home in Istanbul. No words could better describe the family she decides to stay with than her own:
"The family I am living with is quite interesting, a bit crazy but perhaps all families are. But there is something surreal here. Irrationality is part of the everyday rationale. I feel I am in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. One of the sisters is a ttoo artist; another sister is a clairvoyant; one other is a natural history teacher; and the fourth is an eccentric wallflower, or a full-time cuckoo, as Asya would say".
The Asya she talks about is (again in her own words) - "The Daughter of the household. A young woman with four mothers and no father. Quite a character - full of rage, satire, and wit. She makes a good Dostoyevski character". And she is the "Bastard of Istanbul".
I wonder about the title of the story though. Asya plays a role in the book..but in my opinion, she is just not the protagonist.. then why pick - the bastard of istanbul as the title? To give it a zangy-zesty name to attract the attention of the reader...or was there something deeper in the book that I missed?
Well, apart from that.. the book was a pretty interesting read. Through the lives of two teens - Armanoush and Asya, the author (Elif Shafak) gives us a glimpse at the Turkey-Armenia situation. The story has its roots in the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Without taking sides, the author describes how both sides react to "the event" even now. I guess that was a courageous move because she was accused by nationalist lawyers of "insulting Turkish identity". Luckily for her, the charges were dropped and the book was published world wide.
Well, if you do read the book and get back here or if you have already read the book.. I have a couple of questions for you..
** why THIS title for the book?
** what role does Baron Baghdassarian play?
Hmm... i'm still thinking..:)