Tulip of Instanbul


Author: Iskender Pala
Translated by Ruth Whitehouse

9789391125233 | PB | pp. 392 | 2021 | Niyogi Books

Tulip of Instanbul by Iskender Pala, translated by Ruth Whitehouse, is an intriguing historical fiction novel set during the time of the Ottoman empire.

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Tulip of Istanbul is a historical novel depicting the Ottoman empire’s most glorious times in art and aesthetic, elegance and grandeur of dreams. At the same time, it was an era of splurge and wastage, of economic and social collapse. Known as the Tulip Age, this period saw in 1730 a great public revolt which changed the course of Turkey’s destiny.

The novel begins with the story of a young man who finds his beautiful wife murdered on the wedding night. What is more perverse, the innocent young man himself is charged with the murder of his own wife and thrown into prison. In order to prove his innocence and to find the murderer of his lover, his only clue is a tulip bulb that he found in the palm of his dead wife. He has a secret identity which he was initially unaware of; he is a prince, a sultan’s son, who has grown up outside the palace. An intrigue develops in the power circle about his rumoured existence.

The story is interweaved with historical and cultural detail, introducing the reader to life within royal palaces and dervish lodges, to horticultural secrets about growing exclusive tulips, innovative treatment for the insanes in the asylum, torture devices in the prison, and to the conspiracies hatched in coffee houses and hamams by disaffected revolutionaries and gangsters.

Iskender Pala creates a bewitching tapestry of the splendours and vices of Istanbul at a time when the world was still in thrall to its military, political, and artistic achievements.

Additional information


Iskender Pala
Translator: Ruth Whitehouse







Year of Publication:



Niyogi Books





Country of Origin:


About the Contributors

The author was born in Uşak in 1958 and received his undergraduate degree from the faculty of literature of Istanbul University in 1979. He received his Doctorate in Ottoman Divan Literature from the same university in 1983. His short stories, essays, academic papers and newspaper columns have inspired his readers to see Divan literature in a new light. A recipient of the Turkish Writer’s Association Prize (1989), The Turkish Language Foundation AKDTYK Prize (1990) and the Turkish Writer’s Association Essay Prize (1996), he was given the title ‘The People’s Poet’ by popular vote in Uşak.

The translator was a professional violinist before completing a PhD in Modern Turkish Literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. She participated in the Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature in Turkey (2009-2012). Her published translations include: Ali and Ramazan by Perihan Mağden, The Last Tram by Nedim Gürsel, Hotel Bosphorus and Bakhsheesh by Esmahan Akyol and a number of short stories in different anthologies.


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