My university’s holidays are about to end so there is nothing better than reading a good book while traveling from one place to another for the purpose of Office Assignments. I am a selective reader. I love reading fiction and especially by Asian authors. I love the cultural richness that Asia is blessed with. I love how it translates into novels and stories set in Asia, giving them a richness and warmth that makes them a delight to read.
I have been thinking of doing a book review for the longest time but it is extremely difficult for me to select a book from the long list of favourites I have. So, I have decided to write a small non-spoiler reviews of a Female Author “Elif shafaq”. Please, let me know if it is a good idea. Here, I have carefully selected two books that I can pick up any day and read in one sitting. These books are very different in their style of narration and underlying themes hoping that everyone can find something that they like from my selection…
So here we go:
The Forty Rules of Love
The title sounds quite cheesy until you start reading it. A philosophical novel based on the love that incarnates when mysticism meets intelligence, emotions meet reason, spiritualism meets materialism, divine meets mundane, censure meets compassion – when Shams of Tabriz meets Jalal uddin Rumi. Turkish author, Elif Shafak, picks up two famous characters from Islamic history and weaves a lyrical story of what happens when a mystic sufi meets a theological poet.
There are two parallel narratives one contemporary and one set in 13thcentury. Though the contemporary narrative might not be my favourite but the relationship between Shams and Rumi that results in making Rumi a timeless poet of love, is a winner.It is a great, precise and to the point introduction to Sufisim. If you don’t know anything about Islam or Sufisim, you will still love this book equally.
“How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame, it means there is too much fear and blame welled inside us. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we.”
The Bastard Of Istanbul
After Forty rules of Love by Elif Shafaq, I think ‘Bastard Of Istanbul’ is her best novel. It is a glimpse into life of a Turkish household deep rooted in orthodox traditions and beliefs. It is story of two girls connected in ways no one would ever expect. Asya Kazanci, the bastard daughter of Zeliha grows up in Turkey living with her mother and her four eccentric aunts and grandmother. She is headstrong, rebellious teenage girl who is clever and mature for a 19 years old. Asya’s life is summed up in these lines:
“It is so demanding to be born into a house full of women, where everyone loves you so overwhelmingly that they end up suffocating with their love; a house where you, as the only child, have to be more mature than all the adults around…. But the problem is that they want me to become everything they themselves couldn’t accomplish in life…. As a result, I had to work my butt off to fulfill all their dreams at the same time.”
Armanoush Tchakhmakhchian (Amy) lives in Arizona with her American mother and Turkish father, Mustafa. Amy’s struggle to understand her true identity takes her from her dull life in Arizona to culturally rich, Istanbul, where she stays with the strange Kazanci family.
You will fall in love with Shafak’s Istanbul. She paints it as a vibrant, full of life city; a bridge between opposites – between east and west, traditions and truth, superstitions and reality, sanity and insanity. Like Shakespeare’s tragic heroes, her characters are bold, zealous and flawed but yet unforgettable. While the story revolves around two girls, writer touches the 1915 Armenian deportations and massacres when Amy digs through secrets to understand the pain and sorrow her family had faced. Elif Shafak was sued for bringing up this genocide in her book and could have faced three years in prison!
This book is not everybody’s cup of tea. But I adore this poetry of words that forces you to think deeper and pushes the edge of your imagination, making you ask for imagination.
“Once there wasn’t. God’s creatures were as plentiful as grains and talking too much was a sin, for you could tell what you shouldn’t remember and you could remember what you shouldn’t tell.”
I think, now, I know what I am going to do with new year celebration 😉
Would love to know if you have read any of these and what is your opinion about my two ultimate favourite books!