Sunday, August 11, 2013
Honor by Elif Shafak
I would read a grocery list written by Elif Shafak; she's that good. A Turkish writer who was vilified in her native Turkey after her book The Bastard of Istanbul was published, Shafak comes roaring back from that controversy. (Bastard is also a fabulous book - and it's fairly obvious Shafak has little love for Turkish men). Honor begins with a Kurdish woman giving birth to twin girls, number seven and eight daughters. Named Pembe and Jamila (or Pink Destiny and Enough Beauty), the girls' story in a destitute Kurdish village in the Turkish countryside is interspersed with the story of Pembe's daughter and son, as their emigrant life in London unfolds. Unbeknownst to me, the London scene in 1978 was filled with racism and neo-Nazis, creating a tense and dramatic setting in which to place this family drama. As the oldest son gets drawn to Islamic extremism and his father pulls away from the family, Pembe herself becomes the pivot around which the story revolves. With a dramatic twist and beautiful writing, Shafak once again writes a masterpiece of a book.