Elif Shafak (Elif Şafak) is the strongest voice among the contemporary Turkish writers and/or female writers globally. Her unique style of writing, storytelling and narrating is one of a kind. I have been reading her since I got one of her most acclaimed book “The Forty Rules of Love” as a gift from a very close friend, someone I trusted with books.
I have always been a big fan of Rumi and yet I hadn’t read anything on his life. I always had heard of Shams and yet I had no idea what it meant to be Shams, and what was the whole story behind the mere narration. In her book “The Forty Rules of Love” Elif Shafak approaches the story from a brand new perspective and narrates it to the readers with both sweetness and bitterness and adds a flavour of love, she quotes forty different rules of love throughout the book. It is one of the few books which I did not need a bookmark for. In fact, this book quenched my thirst of curiosity on Rumi, and what made him the person he became.
The second book I read from Elif Shafak was “The Bastard of Istanbul”. In this exceptional book of her Elif shafak for the first time paints two very deep issues in a very deserving canvas, the Armenian genocide and the Turkish identity – pre and post Ataturk. Shafak confronts and openly criticizes her country’s violent past in relation to the Armenian genocide of 1915 which eventually results in her being sentenced to three years in prison for writing on the “forbidden” issue. Reading the book, many questions comes about in one’s mind. Another interesting fact about this book is that the humour is priceless and amusing. There are some very funny and heart-rending moments in the narration, one cannot decide whether to laugh or to sob.
“Honour” is another acclaimed book by her. It is a dramatic tale of families, love, and misunderstandings that follows the destinies of twin sisters born in a Kurdish village. This book opens with a very strong and beautiful dedication which reads as follows:
“When I was seven years old we lived in a green house, one of our neighbours a talented tailor would often beat his wife. In the evenings we listened to the shouts, the cries the swearing. In the mornings we went on with our lives as usual. The entire neighbourhood pretended not to have heard. Not to have seen. This novel is dedicated to those who hear, those who see.”
Honour covers many themes that of interest to me. Honour explores what it means to be an immigrant and still carry that culture within to a land that contradicts the community values. Honour explores issues on Muslim women in a traditional society. More in depth, it covers the irony of what men can do, and what Muslim women can’t. How a son can be put in the place of an absent father to guard the honour of his mother and sister. Honour also explores a childhood with an absent parent and how the impressionable adolescence years and the company that he keeps, shapes the destiny of young Muslim men.
For anybody who is interested to read narratives of the problems and issues of life and society, I strongly suggest Elif Shafak.