Longlisted for the 2008 Orange Fiction Prize, Elif Shafak’s The Bastard of Istanbul is a tale of an extraordinary family curse and clashing cultural identities in the mystical and mysterious city of Istanbul.
One rainy afternoon in Istanbul, a woman walks into a doctor’s surgery. ‘I need to have an abortion’, she announces. She is nineteen years old and unmarried. What happens that afternoon will change her life.
Twenty years later, Asya Kazanci lives with her extended family in Istanbul. Due to a mysterious family curse, all the Kaznci men die in their early forties, so it is a house of women, among them Asya’s beautiful, rebellious mother Zeliha, who runs a tattoo parlour; Banu, who has newly discovered herself as clairvoyant; and Feride, a hypochondriac obsessed with impending disaster. And when Asya’s Armenian-American cousin Armanoush comes to stay, long hidden family secrets connected with Turkey’s turbulent past begin to emerge.
‘Wonderfully magical, incredible, breathtaking…will have you gasping with disbelief in the last few pages’ Sunday Express
‘A beautiful book, the finest I have read about Turkey’ Irish Times
‘Heartbreaking…the beauty of Islam pervades Shafak’s book’ Vogue