The Bastard Of Istanbul


Author: Elif Shafak

9780241972908 | PB | pp. 363 | 2015 | Penguin Random House UK

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.

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The Bastard of Istanbul is a tale of an extraordinary family curse and was longlisted for the 2008 Orange Fiction Prize.

One rainy afternoon in Istanbul, a woman walks into a doctor’s surgery. ‘I need to have an abortion’, she announces. She is nineteen years old and unmarried. What happens that afternoon will change her life.

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 beautiful, rebellious mother Zeliha, her clairvoyant aunt Banu and their eccentric sister Feride, as well as the ageing Petit Ma. They are ruled over by the iron will of matriarch Gulsum.

Into the midst of this madhouse comes Asya’s determined American cousin Armanoush, who unknowingly brings with her long-hidden family secrets inextricably linked to Turkey’s turbulent past.

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.

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Elif Shafak




Penguin Random House UK





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About the Author

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, including the bestselling The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love, and Three Daughters of Eve. Her work has been translated into fifty languages. She is published by Penguin/Random House and represented by Curtis Brown globally. She was awarded the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

In 2017 she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people who would make the world better.

Shafak is also a political scientist and an academic. She holds a degree in International Relations, a masters’ degree in Gender and Women’s Studies and a PhD in Political Science and Political Philosophy. She has taught at various universities in Turkey, the UK and the USA, including St Anne’s College, Oxford University, where she is an honorary fellow.


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