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The Bastard of Istanbul

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  40,500 ratings  ·  4,488 reviews
From one of Turkey’s most acclaimed and outspoken writers, a novel about the tangled histories of two families.

In her second novel written in English, Elif Shafak confronts her country’s violent past in a vivid and colorful tale set in both Turkey and the United States. At its center is the “bastard” of the title, Asya, a nineteen-year-old woman who loves Johnny Cash and t
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 18th 2007 by Viking Adult (first published March 2006)
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Matt Samples are usually available from Amazon, Google Books, or other sites like those. Why would you want to get the full book free though? If you like a…moreSamples are usually available from Amazon, Google Books, or other sites like those. Why would you want to get the full book free though? If you like a work, you should support the author and pay for it.(less)
Abdulmajeed_1 الكتاب متوفر في امازون :
متوفر كتاب ورقي , وكتاب بنسخة الكندل…more
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Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2008, cover-love
It was the cover that snared me. Turkey is one of the top three countries on my mental list of countries to visit, along with the Czech Republic and Morocco, and I love Turkish architecture and design. The cover reminded me of those beautiful mosaics and arches and mosques, and then the title! Who could resist? A less impulsive person than me, sure, but this is my idea of living dangerously :)

Beautifully, gracefully, vividly written with a light, airy atmosphere that really allows you to breathe
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: rikin
The book suffers due to its trite language, stereotypical characterization, and unsubtle plot. You end up not really caring for any of the characters, and wishing that the two deep questions - the Armenian genocide and the Turkish identity pre and post Ataturk, had been painted on a more deserving canvas...
Mar 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love Elif Safak and I liked this book. She makes her characters so alive when writing, good are not always good, bad are not always bad, there is beauty and poison in all of us at times. It is only a matter of how we use it.
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The lines are beautiful.
The humor is priceless.
The questions are numerous.
One example being: what is the value of truth?
Is truth always to be sought, AT ALL COSTS?
because: "the past is anything but bygone."

and as Elif Shafak also so eloquently speaks:

"Once there was. 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."

The humor - I adored the depiction of Fre
Nandakishore Mridula
The Bastard of Istanbul is a book with a lot of deep layers, not immediately visible when one starts reading the book. What one takes to be the story of two families - one Turkish, one Armenian, linked together in a convoluted way - in the best tradition of the "family drama" slowly metamorphoses into a tale full of the magic of the metaphor. While showing us the face of the modern Istanbul, a city of contradictions, it also pulls us deeply into its past; romantic and anguishing at the same time ...more
A florid hodgepodge of a book, The Bastard of Istanbul is too weak a novel to deal fruitfully with the issues it raises—the Armenian genocide of 1915; nationalism; how to navigate through your identity as the child of immigrants—and Shafak's ambition doesn't match her execution. It's cluttered and unfocused, and Shafak's characters fail to come alive beneath the weight of symbolism and stereotypes she heaps on them. The climactic revelations of the novel are also quite far-fetched and felt very ...more
Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Anca by: ionuca
Shelves: old-holidays, 10
Wow! This was something! I have to admit I missed the feeling of oneness in a book.
Right after I finnished it (& took a deep breath), I turned on my computer determined to read more about the author, the story, ideas, opinions. I like to do that when I don't want a book to end.
Unfortunately, I got to an old conclussion of mine again: critique and dissection of the book has no charm. I clicked on some links and there I had! opinions about how characters evolve and how the novel is built, even c
Saadia B. ||  CritiConscience
Full of suspense, wittiness and cleverly written. The Bastard of Istanbul is a story of two girls Asya and Armanoush (Amy) who are connected with one another in terms of their family linkage yet are very distinctive as characters.

Asya is born out of wedlock to Zeliha (a tattoo artist) hence called as the bastard, whereas Amy was born in America to an Armenian father and an American mother, Rose. However their marriage didn’t last much and they separated when Amy was a small kid.

Amy curious to
The mordant gap between the children of those who managed to stay and the children of those who had to leave.
If there's one story the media in the United States should be having conniptions over right now, it's that of Mike Brown. Not Ebola, not Ukraine, not even Robin Williams, for if that man was half of the good things I've heard since depression killed him, he wouldn't want the tears of those who believe yet another black person deserved to die at the hands of white law enforcement. Ther
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2019
Another one that is difficult to assess and review. There are elements of this family story set in Istanbul and America that I liked a lot - the characters are strong, quirky and memorable, the historical parts about the role of the Armenian community in the development of Istanbul and the Turkish regime's denial of their role in the Armenian genocide are brave and important.

On the other hand some chapters felt rushed and too often resorted to cliche, for example the phrase "swearing like a troo
Jul 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, fiction
Entertaining? Yes. Lively characters? Absolutely. Page turner? By all means. It is what I call the perfect book for holiday. One might as well consider Middlesex and The Kite Runner, not only for the captivating stories but also for the multi-cultural (Turkish-American, Armenian-American, Greek-American, Afghan-American whatever-American) incursion into people's and countries' past and present political / economical / social situation.

Beyond the complicated relationships (which got on my nerves
Aug 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2008
We need more popular fiction that depicts other aspects of Muslim life than the narrative of women's oppression that has become all too familiar. Though this book is a useful addition to that category, it falls short; the writing and plotting frequently feel forced, and some of the characters seem like nothing so much as convenient vehicles to carry out plot points. If the writing were consistently strong, this could be more easily overlooked, but there were too many times when I felt like the a ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: bbc radio listeners
Recommended to Bettie by: Laura

Description: Two families - one Turkish, the other Armenian-American - are bound by the same horrific past. One rainy afternoon in Istanbul, a nineteen-year-old, unmarried woman walks into a doctor's surgery. "I need to have an abortion," she announces.

Twenty years later, Asya Kazanci lives with her extended family in Istanbul. All the Kanzanci men die early, victims of a mysterious family curse, so this is a household of women. Among them are Asya's beaut
Book Riot Community
A beautiful, entangled tale of a Turkish and Armenian family coming to terms with their past, rooted in the Armenian genocide of the early 20th century, and set mostly in a real, beautiful and gritty Istanbul. It’s a passionate story told with whimsy, humor and beauty in its portrayal of both love and unimaginable suffering.

— Kareem Shaheen

from The Best Books We Read In September 2016:
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
The writing in this one was great, but the story feel flat for me. It was both too much and too little. There was a lot of extraneous material as it seemed like the author was in love with this Turkish family and just wanted to tell us all about them. There could have been more focus on the relationship of the characters and the Armenian genocide. I felt it wasn’t sufficiently woven into the story, except for some coincidental plot points.
Blanca Mazón
Nov 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Blanca by: review in a magazine
Hi, this is my first review. I am actually still reading this book, but it has caught me. Elilf Shafak is a wonderful story-teller, in the tradition of John Irving. Not only does interest you everything happening to the characters, but she brings a very political and critical touch to the story. For those looking forward to knowing more about Turkey and its problematic position between Europe and Asia. Wonderful book, lovely written and emotional, too, without becoming sentimental.

A couple of da
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: genocide, turkey
While I take my hat off for the commendable intentions and courage of Shafak for writing this book, the literary merit of this work, as far as I can judge, is close to nil. Dull characters, repetitious quasi-jokes, jagged storylines, essay-like prose (where you can clearly see through her ideology) fill the pages of this book and make reading it close to torture. And no redemption really with the ending. No, quite the contrary: It makes things really worse.

Things I didn't appreciate at all:
- B
Amal Bedhyefi
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Having only read 2 of her books and not being able to write a review on the Forty Rules of love ( because i Loved it and hated it at the same time ) , Elif leaves me once again , mind blown .
How she managed to adress all these issues so beautifully yet bitterly really astonished me.
Her use of diction , life-like characters , humour , sarcasm , strong metaphors/symbols , historical backround and bittersweet events made me value this book , and therefore , the one who wrote it.
The Bastard of Istan
"Separation can be a form of connection. Writing in English creates a cognitive distance between me and the culture I come from; paradoxically, this enables me to take a closer look at Turkey and Turkishness." (Elif Shafak)

I am usually rating my books without taking into consideration whether I like the author or not. In this case I will make an exception (please forgive my weakness): If I only rated the literary qualities, I would give this book three stars. The fourth star is an expression of
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Unimpressive. The author takes on an ambitious story and topic, but botches the execution (I actually thought it was a bad translation, before I realised it was just badly written) and hits you repeatedly over the head with the "moral" of the story, even spelling it out explicitly at the end. She's clearly read a lot of Rushdie and Kundera, but what is rendered magical in the hands of the masters is chunky and overdressed in the hands of Shafak. Why does every character and cafe have to have a q ...more
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved that book and it is so much going inside. Familly secrets, genocide and a lot what you can think about.

But what I loved most is the story and characters. This familly formed of women, each of them so unique and so interesting and powerful. A great friendship is to be born, the secrets to be revealed.

Honestly why did I missed and read/listened just now? Not sure, but better later than ever. Enjoy, very recommended read.
aPriL does feral sometimes
'The Bastard of Istanbul' by Elif Shafak is primarily about three interconnected 21st-century families who are separated after the 1915 massacre of Armenians by the Turks in Turkey.

The Kazanci family, in Istanbul:

Gülsüm, the mother of the women:

-Banu, a psychic.

-Cevriyi, a Turkish national history teacher at a private high school

-Feride, mentally ill, possibly schizophrenic.

-Zeliha, a tattooist

-Asya, Zeliha's daughter, by an unknown father. Asya is the bastard.


Petite-Ma, mother of Gülsüm, su
Jonathan Pool
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: international

“the average Turk had no notion of continuity with his or her ancestors” (164). Elif Shafak shines a light on the Armenian genocide (1915-7). centered around the fictional Tchakhmakhchian and Stamboulian families the story highlights continued denial in Turkey of crimes committed by previous generations. It is serious stuff, and in a fictional format the story ponders on whether younger generations will look at the past with fresh eyes.


* The Kazanci sisters (Banu, Cevriye, Fe
Elif Shafalk is a master of contrast and of clear, sometimes even ridiculously exaggerated characters.
In Istanbul, the city of contrasts, there lives a family consisting of four sisters. Each of them is different as earth and air, and as fire and water. With them, there lives a girl, the titular bastard, who grows-up influenced by all those“forces of nature”.
Time passes, the girl becomes a young woman. As a result of series of coincidences another young woman enters their lives and with her a ce
সালমান হক
This book was almost well written, ALMOST. It had the potential to be a great book but failed miserably. It was cluttered and unfocussed. Under the weight of symbolism and stereotypes none of the characters came alive. The ending- I literally rolled my eyes in frustration.

The novel was supposed to take you on a historic journey about the genocide against the Armenian by Ottoman empire. But this aspect covered very few pages of the book. I had a feeling that the events those were taking places
If you're interested in the Middle East and/or Turkish history and/or the Armenian genocide, this book is likely for you. If you're not, it's not a bad book, but great stretches of it may bore you. I really enjoyed the characters and would've liked to have known them better and had less of those historical details. It made the book more of a slog. There were sections that read like a five or very close, but also great swathes of boredom and feeling like I'm being hit over the head so the author ...more
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
Elif Shafak’s The Bastard of Istanbul intricately weaves together the lives of two families, the Turkish Kazanci family and the Armenian Tchakhmakhchian family. When Armanoush, the young daughter of Barsam Tchakhmakhchian and Rose from Kentucky, flies to Istanbul to visit her step-father’s family in Turkey to learn about her heritage, little does she know her visit will open up old wounds that have festered for generations.

The “bastard” of the title is Asya Kazanci, the illegitimate daughter of
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
From BBC Radio 4:
Two families - one Turkish, the other Armenian-American - are bound by the same horrific past. Written by Elif Shafak and dramatised by Hattie Naylor.

One rainy afternoon in Istanbul, a nineteen-year-old, unmarried woman walks into a doctor's surgery. "I need to have an abortion," she announces.

Twenty years later, Asya Kazanci lives with her extended family in Istanbul. All the Kanzanci men die early, victims of a mysterious family curse, so this is a household of women. Among th
Sorin Hadârcă
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I hear some diminish The Bastard of Istanbul for feminism and textbook English. I take that’s rubbish. True, she speaks of women: Turkish and Armenian, in San Francisco and Istanbul. She also pays great attention to cuisine, clothing and character, which is bound to be scarce in… say Kurt Vonnegut (whom I admire). And I didn’t felt bad about the language – on the contrary – I think it has volume; it brings about images and reveals truths.

I was very attracted to what the author calls – the Janiss
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A quote from this book:
''Family stories intermingle in such ways that what happened generations ago can have an impact on seemingly irrelevant developments of the present day''
This explains the theme of this book. I really like this book. It was a unique story. Although it was a little drag at starting and you have to be a little bit patient about it but once you dive in it you won't regret it. I never give 5 stars to books unless its story line is unique, interesting or captivate me. This book
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Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into fifty languages. Shafak holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, including St Anne's Colleg ...more

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