Solar plexus by Rustam Ibragimbekov

Solar plexus ( A Baku saga in four pars ) by Rustam Ibragimbekov

Azerbaijan fiction

Original title -Солнечное сплетение

Translator – Andrew Broomfield

Source – review copy

Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our

Our house it has a crowd
There’s always something happening
And it’s usually quite loud
Our mum she’s so house-proud
Nothing ever slows her down
And a mess is not allowed

Our house by madness seemed a rather good choice for this book -source 

Well when i receive the email to review this book ,I jump at the chance it isn’t often these days I get to add a new country and writer to the list of book from on this blog ,so a chance to read a book from Azerbaijan is a real treat .I hadn’t heard of Rustam Ibragimbekov ,but he has been well known in Russia and then Azerbaijan for his film making ,his father was an art historian ,Rustam went on to study in Azerbaijan and then in Russia where in Moscow he studied cinematography .He then start writing films and tv scripts ,his best known film is” White sun of the desert “,a cult film ,that has been shown to Russian cosmonauts just before they take off for a number of years .

He barely caught glimpse of her in the gloom of the entrance : two quick strides up two steps at a time , and she disappeared completely round the bend in the staircase .He was no longer afraid of being noticed.He wanted to get another look at her ,before listening to her rapid steps .

Alik follow the girl from the drama group .

Solar Plexus is four short novella length stories that track the course of a family in the capital city of Azerbaijan Baku in one building  and friends  we follow four genrations stories throughout the 20th century .The action focus on the peroid of 1940 to 1990 and four stories from those years we follow three genrations from 27 Shemakhinka street and the courtyard with in this address and the people hat live with in the courtyard .We open with Alik and his family ,Alik is involved in a drama group ,well he really likes one of the women in the drama group .Then we move on to Marat’s story he works at the quarry ,then we follow the Rectors story as he sees to the people round him .the last story follows the courtyard and its folks as a whole as they head toward Azerbaijan become a country once again as the Soviet union falls apart .

The first feeble but unanimous impulse we all felt when we emerged ,exhausted from the militia station was go straight home .But in 1992 Baku still retained some of the qualties of the real Baku ,and from out of nowhere we were suddenly surrounded by a gang of young men shouting in delight ,led by two twenty-year-old giants – Marat’s sons .

Near the end the sons and grandsons of the original families see Azerbaijan free again .

 

After reading about Rustam’s film and tv career ,well he is well-known for his talent at mixing tragedy and comedy together .The stories in here are a personnel glimpse of everyday life in Baku through the eyes of these families that are so different but due to the fact they share a courtyard interact with each other every day .The world outside is seen the end of world war two ,the Soviets taking charge ,the bad years of Stalin ruling with the purges ,but also we see how they slowly try to take over Azerbaijan making it more Russian than Azerbaijan . A wonderful mix of romance and comedy .We then glimpse how the people and country as a whole start to believe in the fact they could once again become a separate country as they saw at a distance what was happening in Moscow and elsewhere in the Soviet Union

Have you a favourite book from one of the former Soviet countries ?

The man with the compound eyes by Wu Ming-Yi

man with the compound eyes

The man with the compound eyes by Wu Ming-YI

Taiwanese fiction

Translator – Darreyl Sterk

Original title –   複眼人

Source Review copy

I was pleased to get this as I’ve not read a book from Taiwan before so always love finding out about new cultures and writers .Wu Ming-Yi is a writer and artist ,he studied Marketing and Chinese literature at university .He has written both fiction and non fiction titles ,he has written a number of non fiction titles on butterflies .This is his first Novel to be translated to English.

The people of Wayo Wayo thought the whole world was but a single island .The island situated in the midst of an immense ocean , far from any continent .As far as island memory reached ,the white man had once visited the island ,but nobody had ever left and brought back news of another land .

Atile’i island home is very isolated .

Now I am not a big reader of speculative fiction ,so the style of this book was unusual to me .It is set in a near future as a toxic disaster ,caused by to much rubbish has lead to strange occurrences in the oceans of the world  has hit the worlds oceans .In Taiwan Alice ,she is a professor has recently lost not just her husband but also her son .Finds a man who has been brought in on the tide of rubbish and junk that arrive on the seafront by her house .This man is Atile’i he has just come of age in his culture turned 15 and was as the second son of his family ,he has to leave his island home of Wayo Wayo  and has wound up in Taiwan .These two then set out to become friends struggling to get to know one another at the start but slowly getting there .Atile’i sets out with Alice to follow what happened to her husband and her son by following a trail on a mountain they took  her husband had taken before he died .

Alice wanted to grieve for the victims but couldn’t feel anything .Over the last ten years ,there had been more and more earthquakes and floods .

Alice had seen a lot through her eyes and in her life .

This book is quite unique Wu Ming-Yi has a  unusual voice ,this book at its heart is a plea to us all to take better care of our planet .I read a piece about how it came to us in English because his publicist really pushed it and a book mentioned that was similar to it was Life of pi and I loved life of pi ,yes this book has that unreal world feel Atie’i feels like he is from another place his ,a different culture he had to leave his island as a sacrifice to the sea good ,but as the strongest of his friends in sailing and swimming just managed to survive .He remind me in a lot of ways of Pi from life of Pi .Alice was a women in despair when she found him ,This is so much a story about love ,loss not just in a personnel sense but also on a global scale ,the disaster that features in the book ,is a warning to us all .I was also reminded of footage of rubbish from the tsunami that has been up around the pacific actually shows how interconnect we all are  .Also music plays a part although they struggle to get along the two are drawn together over time by music .A  must read for readers that like something of different from the usual European fiction .I must admit the cover is also my favourite cover of 2013 

Shadow man Asian

shadow-man-asian-logo-2012

It is our great pleasure to announce the winner of the Shadow Jury’s Man Asian Literary Prize for 2012.

The four-member Shadow Jury has chosen Narcopolis, by Jeet Thayil.

Narcopolis

Described variously by the members of the jury as a “strangely compelling” and “utterly, compellingly addictive” novel that “marries a beautiful prose style with some deeply unbeautiful subject matter”, this novel could not be further apart from our winner last year, Please Look After Mother, by Kyung-sook Shin. The fact that such different novels can win the same prize is a testament to the breadth and depth of Asian writing uncovered by the Man Asian Literary Prize. Full reviews of the novel are available at each participating blog.

If Narcopolis wins the Man Asian Literary Prize, it will be the first debut novel to do so under the new rules introduced in 2010.

The Shadow Man Asian Literary Prize Jury was formed in 2010 to promote the Man Asian Literary Prize throughout the world. It comprises four bloggers: Matthew Todd (http://matttodd.wordpress.com), Lisa Hill (http://anzlitlovers.com), Mark Staniforth (http://eleutherophobia.wordpress.com) and Stu Allen (http://winstonsdad.wordpress.com). In its first year, it correctly picked the winner of the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize, Please Look After Mother, by Kyung-sook Shin.

The Man Asian Literary Prize began in 2007 as a prize for unpublished manuscripts, though was revamped in 2010 to recognise the best Asian novel each year. The official Man Asian Literary Prize winner for 2012 will be announced in Hong Kong on Thursday 14 March 2013.

Nacropolis by Jeet Thayil

Narcopolis

Nacropolis by Jeet Thayil

Indian fiction

Source – Library copy

Jeet Thayil is from Kerala in India ,he is the son of a well-known editor .This meant he grew up in Hong-Kong and New york .He has a degree in Fine art ,he has written Poetry ,librettist and now a writer Nacropolis is his Début Novel .The book was shortlist for the Man booker prize this year and also I m reviewing it as the last of this year’s Man Asian short list .The book also recently won the DSC prize for south-east Asian  Literature .

Bombay ,which obliterated its own history by changing its name and surgically altering its face ,is the hero or heroin of this story ,and since I’m the one who’s telling it and you don’t know who I am ,let me say that we’ll get to who of it but not right now ,because now there’s time  enough not to hurry ,to light the lamp and open the window to the moon and take a moment to dream of a great and broken city .

The opening prologue of the book .

Nacropolis is set in the 70’s and 80’s ,the book is set in a darker and old Bombay ,than I have met in Indian fiction before .This book is a story of drugs and that city how drugs effect the everyday life of a group of people over twenty year .The group we meet are all connected in some way to Rashid’s opium house on a street in Bombay .The people living in this book are the short of mish mash of characters and show that drugs can effect one and all .,Dimple a castrated prostitute who has been at Rashid’s since she was a girl .The book in a way shows her journey and the changing face of drug taking within India from opium to heroin . We also see China a bit as well as one of the regulars is from China and we learn about the communists taking of China in flashback  .Thayil used his own experiences to build this book .This is the story of the real city of Bombay before it changed and became a new city .

I went back the next day and found Rashid in his room ,sitting in his chair by the window with prayer beads in his hands .I asked if he was feeling better .

I’ll never be good or better .I’m past the age of it ,Now there’s only bad or worse

I said I had come to pay my respects

Rashid said ,”I’m an old man . I don’t want talk about the o,ld days ” but he brought it up himself .

The end of the story as Rashid house is gone and the city is changing

I found this book dizzying at times Thayil is a very frank writer ,this isn’t drugs dressed up and beautified ,no Thayil is a former drug addict and has used this book to show the harm drugs do to people .As much as in place it is horrifying in others it is touching it is like watching a car crash in slow motion you want to look away but can’t as you are transfixed by the action .Thayil has done for Indian drug culture and opening it up for what it is ,the same as Irvine Welsh ,William Burroughs ,Robert Bolano and numerous other writers ,the more you read about drug taking you see that if it Edinburgh ,,Mexico city or Bombay the fallout from taking drugs is just the same .Thayil,has said in interview he wants this to be a view of addicts that makes people have empathy with them for being real people .

Have you read this book ?

What did you think of the books on this years Man Asian shortlist ?

The Briefcase by Hiromi Kawakami

the briefcase

The Briefcase by Hiromi Kawakami

Japanese fiction

Original title – Sensei no Kaban

Translator Alison Martin Powell

Source – personnel copy

Well the last of the Japanese books for this month and it is one from this years Man Asian prize shortlist .Tony asked us all to post at the end of the month thankfully my copy arrived yesterday ,so I managed to read it overnight .Hiromi Kawakami is a graduate of Ochanomizu women’s college ,she published her first book in 1980 ,with her previous books she has won a number of prizes .This book won the prestigious Tanizaki prize in 2001 previous winners include Ryu Murakami ,Yoko Ogawa and Kenzaburo Oe .

His full name was Mr Harutsuna Matsumoto ,but I called him “Sensei “not “Mr ” or “Sir ” just ” Sensei “

He was my Japanese teacher in High school .He wasn’t my homeroom teacher ,and Japanese class didn’t interest me much ,so I didn’t really remember him .Since graduation ,I hadn’t seen him for quite a while

Tsukiko saying why she calls him Sensei at the start of the book

The Briefcase or bag of Sensei is a love story .It was published in its native Japan as a serial so its chapters are short and tend to leave you wanting to read the next chapter .The story is the story of The sensei (Japanese for teacher ) and Tsukiko a former pupil of the Sensei who is now in her thirties ,the sensei is retired .The pair meet in a traditional Japanese bar .As the relation ship develops you see them doing many things such as watching the cherry blossom falling of the trees ,picking mushrooms and visiting an Island for a weekend away .This being Japan this very unusual relationship isn’t all about your full-blown passion, no it is more two lonely souls in the sea that is Tokyo that have end up being drawn together ,The sensei is like you would expect a very quiet man but he has the air of some one deep in thought and serious with it .Tsukiko is hard to read but he admiration and love for this older man seems unwavering and maybe you feel she has had her heart-broken in the past by a younger man .

“Sensei ,your is the special ,right ? “

“that’s what they call it “

“how is it different from the regular “

We both bent our heads and examined the two boxed lunches .

“There doesn’t seem to be much difference at all” the Sensei said Amiably

They have lunch and compare lunches a humorousness moment .

 

This is a book that has been made into a Japanese tv series and a stage show A quick search of the internet ,I found a clip showing pics from the stage show .I was reminded of a UK TV series called may to December that was shown in the uk when I was growing up it involved a couple of similar age gap to the couple in the briefcase and actually similar characters to this book .The action was the same on the surface we seem different cultures but as may to December showed it was all about the being together more than the sex and the way the relationship develop was so well done by Kawakami like a time elapse picture capture the relationship stage by stage .Some wonderful moments of humur Tsukiko buying a grater for sensei when it appeared they’d fallen out or compare her normal packed lunch brought from the shop to his special of the same dish and deciding they were actually the same .The fact it was as a serial works well for this story I felt and didn’t feel uneven as sometimes novels made up of serial parts can.

Have you read this book ?

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

revenge by Yoko Ogawa

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

Japanese fiction

Original title – collected from various stories she has written .

Translator – Stephen Snyder

Source – Review Copy

I ve often seen Yoko Ogawa name mention and her books reviewed around the internet and had ordered Hotel Iris from the library for Tony’s January in Japan ,when this fell through my letter box so I decide to read this as I don’t get through many short story collections so this being described as dark and like classic poetry collections I decide to give it a whirl .Yoko Ogawa  grew up in a japanese christian family her grandfather was a teacher ,she grew ,loving literature in particular The diary of Anne Frank ,she then began working  and at 26 published her first book .She has written over twenty books over the last twenty five years .

He died twelve years ago .Suffocated in an abandoned refrigerator left in a vacant lot .When I first saw him ,I didn’t think he was dead.I thought he was just ashamed to look me in the eye because he had stayed away from home for three days .

The two women talk in the bakers in the story Afternoon at the bakery

So to revenge when I opened and read through the title poison plants ,welcome to the museum of torture ,I knew I was on to a strange collection so we open on the first story a mother is at a baker’s shop we meet two women and it turns out one is buying a cake for a son that had died many years ago as the chat away about what they’re doing in the bakery  .As you go through the stories we  start to see links through out ,elsewhere we have a pair of staff whose job is  collecting lab coats at a hospital then ,we see some at the same hospital  someone doing heart surgery in one of  the said  lab coat .The man who works at the strange Museum of torture happens to turn up in the next story doing a completely different job .

she rubbed her cheek against the bundle ;

“Do they have any of your books here ?” I asked .

“They do ” she said ,standing up and going to one of the  shelves .

” This is mine – one that managed to escape the burglar ” she said handing it to me .

Afternoon at the bakery .The book was slender ,and as tattered as her bundle .

The title of another story appears as a book in the story Tomatoes and the full moon

This collection is rather well done .The stories all tend to be  on the strange and unusual  side ,the collection , I was reminded me most of were the stories of Roald Dahl ,the ones that got made into tales of unexpected because a lot of these stories had that feel of weird glances into people’s lives and meeting  odd characters such as  the landlady that grows strange human hand shaped carrots in her garden for example .Another collection of short stories  I was reminded of was the collection by Dan Rhodes Timoleon Vieta come home ,which had a recurring motif through out its stories is that of the dog Timoloen vieta  appearing at some point during the story .Here the motif isn’t so clear but is there and is almost like the Japanese puzzle box my grandparents had where you had push this panel ,move this bit to finally open the box ,here there is a little bit of the previous story that appears in the next story and as you go along you see some other you have to go back and discover .Each story would make a great stand alone this is one of those collections where there is no weak link .The book comes out tomorrow in the uk .

Do you have a favourite collection of short stories from Asia ?

 

Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino

grotesque natsuo kirino

Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino

Japanese thriller fiction

Original title Gurotesuku

Translator – Rebecca Copeland

Source  Personnel copy

I tend to buy most books I see second-hand in translation ,that appeal on some level this was the case with this book I saw it in a charity shop last summer and put up on the shelf so when tony announced that he was doing January in Japan it seemed a perfect time to read this crime thriller .Natsuo Kirino is female Japanese writer .she is a leading figure in the current boom in female detective fiction this is the second of three crime novels she has had translated into English .She also writes romance novel in Japan under a different name .So to Grotesque the title is maybe a comment on the world that is involved in the book ..

It was the kind of navy-blue knee sock most everyone wore .Only this one had a Ralph Lauren logo on top

Everyone was completely nonchalant .No one seemed to care if they’d lost something because unlike me ,they could go out and buy another one .That is why I found it odd that this girl was making such a fuss over a lousy sock .She held it out to show her friends.

The school where it starts is rather posh .

Well I was a bit nervous about this book as I’m not a huge Genre reader at best of times .But as I started I was slowly drawn into this world of women with secrets ,those secrets selling their body to men for money and  two women that end up dead but have different journey into prostitution but did start at the same school growing up .these two women Yuriko and Kauze had problems at school but both end on the streets now they’ve been murder Yuriko younger sister is trying to find out what happened and is delving into the dark underground world that her sister ended up living in .She sees how via her Journal she start with rich business men but like a footballer that stays on playing to long she started to slid and ended on the street corner rather like seeing a once great player plying their trade for a lower league club .The world we are drawn into is very seedy her sister went to an expensive school and gets dazzled by the labels and life that she see this is how she ends up in the game so to speak .We see how these girls fall and how the police and the sister try to find the killer .

When I met Yuriko ,it spelled misfortune for us both .I heard from detective Takashi that Ms Hirata had once been beautiful and had worked as a model .Detective Takashi went on to say that as she grew old and ugly she became a cheap street-walker ” But I thought she was beautiful .

One of the men that her sister used to meet .

Well I wasn’t looking forward to much to the subject matter in this book but Kirino handles it with a careful hand not making the early life in prostitution with the rich business men  for the sister and her school friend seem to glamorous, she also makes the gritty descent  to street walker and the working and perverse men she meets on street corners seem real and Yuirko in particular is a character that in the end I felt really sorry for because she had it all and threw it away  and the way  she was murdered and how this one beautiful women had fallen .The lives are fleshed out by the fact a couple of chapter are written as if they are the girls journal .I felt this book had quite a feminist feel to it and about how women are viewed in Japan and how wrong this is sometime .  This isn’t so much a crime novel as a study into the underworld of prostitution and the men that use them the murders are only a sideline in the narrative .

Have you read this book or any books by Kirino ?

Snow country by Yasunari Kawabata

SNOW COUNTRY YASUNARI kAWABATA

Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

original title 雪国

Translator – Edward G Seidensticker

Source personnel copy

Well It time for Tony’s Japanese lit month January in Japan and I’m kicking mine of with a short novella from the Poet and Novelist Yasunari Kawabata .Born in 1899 in the early to mid twentieth century he was one of the best known Japanese writers .Orphaned at two he start writing soon after he finished his studies ,this his best known work was published in 1937 and added to ten years later .He was also well-known for writing Haiku poem .He also won the Nobel prize for literature in 1968 .

A girl had been sitting on the other side of the carriage came over and opened the window in front of Shimamura .The snowy cold poured in .Leaning far out of the window , the girl called to the station master as though he were a great distance away .

Shimamura on the train meet ?

 

Well Snow country is a love story but it is very Japanese story .The book opens with a business man  Shimamura on a train of to the Snow Country a mountain village that has a lot of snow in the winter .He gets off at the station and so do two women the first a traditional Geisha from the village called Komako and the second a younger women coming to car for a sick family member these three form the bases of the book .The Geisha   Komako becomes the women that Shiamura seeks and wants to be with ,but as the story unfolds you see the gaping gap between the village and the way Komako grew up she is very traditional following the old ways and Shimamura has been in Tokyo  is very into western things with an idealized view of traditional Japanese culture  .So he starts to notice the younger women Yoko  the daughter of an innkeeper when with Komako  you see all this unfold from the winter through the spring and summer . This is how the story starts and to see how it goes on is up to you will need to  read it .

See out at the back,

Three pears ,three cedars,

Six trees in all ,

Crows nest below ,

sparrows nest above

And what if they are singing ?

“harkarmairi itcho itcho ya ” *

*means a hundred yards ,a hundred yards again

A song sung later in the novella

 

The book was published initially as a short story and then as a number of extra stories / chapters afterwards, so you do get a somewhat episodic feel to the tale as we see the romance move on and the pair then … . The other big theme in this book is one of my favourite themes in literature and that is the clashing of changing cultures ,from the urbane Tokyo to the old Japanese values and customs of the village and the Geisha girls in the village .Kawabata language is sparse at times,he has honed his writing craft writing haiku’s so you feel that every word had been thought over and worked to the last drop thus produce something that just works perfectly on the page ,the scene is set but not over set and the character just sketched enough to make you know who they are .Komako is based on a real Geisha that Kawabata  knew from the region the book is set  .So  he is  a great new writer to me as this is the first book by him I have read .Many  thanks for Tony as this may have sat on my shelf for a couple of years otherwise .

Have you read this book ?

Well

Between Clay and Dust by Musharraf Ali Farooqi

between-clay-and-dust_0

Between Clay and Dust by Musharraf Ali Farooqi

Pakistan fiction

Musharraf Ali Farooqi is a Pakistani  -Canadian writer ,he briefly studied  engineering at university before turning to writing .He has so far published five novels and some children’s fiction ,one of his previous novels was shortlisted for the south Asian DSC prize and longlist for prestigious Impac prize .He spends his time between Canada and Pakistan ,he is also a translator of books from Urdu to english and is working on an online collection of Urdu Fiction and literature .

Ustad Ramzi was the head of a Pahlwan clan and the custodian of a wrestler’s akhara .He was a man of frugal speech and austere habits and appeared to some a stern man .His imposing stature .a heavy set jaw ,and upturned whiskers only reinforced this impression .He was one of those men who do not accept the futility and emptiness of life ,but who try continuously to give it meaning

Ustad described ,he is one proud chap .

So this was one of the writers that was new to me from this years longlist for the man asian and I may say the biggest surprise for on the surface a novel about wrestling didn’t really appeal .But no this is a great book in fact over christmas I called in my undiscovered Gem of the year .So the book it focus on two brothers Ustad Ramzi and his younger brother Tamami now Ustad is the best wrestler of his time and at his base ,called a Akhari ,he is joined by young men hoping to gleam the knowledge of the master .Now the younger brother is forgotten and considered maybe a bit of a loser and a burden by his older brother .That is part of the book the story of the brothers the other is a challenger to Ustad from another wrestler called Goher Jan he is younger than Ustad and is want Ustad’s postion of respect .A futher strand is to do with the changing face of the place new building old friends leaving and promoters getting involved in the wrestling scene .So as you see this has it all sporting drama ,family saga and commentary on the changing face of Pakistan society not bad for a book of just 212 pages .To find out what happens I suggest you buy it !

 

During the exhibition bout Ustad Ramzi observed Tamami prolonging the fight with Sher Ali .He angrily left the Akhara when he realized Tamami was doing something he  had expressly forbidden him to do .the trainees followed him .

Ustad sees his brother wrestle and get better but at what cost !

Now I have always been wary of sports related novels as I felt in the past some just don’t catch the feel of the sport or maybe the sport is just a small by line in the story and I ve been disappointed .But this book took a sport that I don’t watch these days I did grow up watch on a Saturday  the rather  they would overact and the action was quite tame at time professional wrestling on British TV in my youth with over the top character like Giant Haystacks and Big daddy .Well these guys in this book are serious about their wrestling  and train hard and take real pride in what they do .For them to be the best is to earn honour and a place with in the community around them  .Also this is a book about family but  brothers in particular  and the thing about one being a success and the other maybe not having it and being over shadow at times this is like something from Greek myths or classic literature .I do hope this finds a UK publisher as is a positive view of life in Pakistan and would maybe break down people ideas of the country .

Do you have a favourite sport based novel ?

 

Honour by Elif Shafak

Honour-Elif-Shafak1

Honour by Elif Shafak

Turkish fiction

source Library copy

Elif Shafak is one of the most prolific writers of Turkish origins around today ,she writes in both Turkish and English .Raised by her single mother as her parents seperated when she was just one year old she grew up in various place round Europe ,She has been longlisted for the IMPAC prize  and her novels have also caused much discussion in Turkey .Honour is her eight novel .

My mother died twice .I promised myself I would not let her story be forgotten ,but I could never find the time or the will or the courage to write about it .That is ,until recently .I don’t think I’ll ever become a real writer and that’s quite all right now .

The opening lines as the daughter of Pembe tries to tell us her story .

 

Honour is the story of a family set over three generations and from turkey to London at the heart of the story is Twin sisters and a man .Pembe the sister that wins the man moves to london with her young family .she settles in seventies London .That is one strand the next is in the present day about her son and daughter ,the son has been in Shrewsbury prison for 14 years because he killed Pembe .His sister is now preparing for his return .The third strand is following the grandmother as she kept giving birth to girls .So we see how from the grandmother to the grand-daughter how things have and haven’t changed for turkish women .Well I say Turkish that is another thread this family is half Kurdish .

Adem had spent his entire childhood torn between two fathers his sober Baba and his drunken Babe .The two men lived in the same body .But they were as different from each other as night from day.So sharp was the contrast between them that Adem suspected the drink his father drowned every evening to be some kind of magic potion .

Adem the man who chose Pembe but loved her sister .

I love Shafak style of writing it is lush and hints at magic realism with out ever falling full length into it, the book  has echoes of both writers like Pamuk but also a large chunk of Gabriel Garcia Marquez especially in scope I was reminded of books like Love in the time of Cholera and 100 Years .But this is part of where I found myself struggling maybe it is too much this felt like a great trilogy of three generations stuck into one book .I loved will Self’s umbrella this has a similar feel at times as we cross time to see the family history woven together.I loved the family and especially the time in London in the seventies it so reminded me of bits from my own childhood .I feel if you’re looking for an insight into how Turkish families work from the female point of view this is the book for you .This was my first book for this years shadow man asian  I m staying in turkey for my next read as I read the Pamuk from the shortlist a book set in turkey at the same time this book is set in London .I may also note that Elif has been picked as one of this years jurors for the independent foreign fiction prize .

Have you read her books ?

 

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