Honour by Elif Shafak
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 ?