Book - 2006
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Meryem, a fifteen-year-old girl, lives in a rural village on the shores of Lake Van in Eastern Turkey. Her simple life changes dramatically after her uncle, a sheikh in a dervish order, rapes her. She is considered an outcast for shaming her family. When she is locked in a shed and left alone for days, she comes to the painful realization that her family expects her to hang herself with a length of rope left on the dirt floor. But she is defiant.
As tradition still has it, a judgment must be made in the name of honor. She is told she is to be taken to Istanbul, a shining city she envisions being just over the nearest mountain. Many girls from her village have "gone to Istanbul," and she assumes it must be a wonderful place since not one has returned. In fact, those girls have been the victims of "honor-killings."
Cemal, Meryem's cousin, a commando in the army, has been fighting in the mountains against the rebels. On his return home, he is welcomed as a hero though he has been severely traumatized by his war experiences. His father, who had violated Meryem, charges Cemal with the task of executing his cousin's punishment. As he and Mereym begin their journey, they proceed through the marketplace where the townspeople have gathered, some weeping and others mocking her.
In Istanbul, a Harvard-educated professor named Irfan lives an elite existence. He has published many books, hosts a radio show, and seems to enjoy success and jet-set freedom. He revolts against the routine of his soulless life, deciding to leave his wealthy wife and Istanbul. He charters a boat to sail the Aegean . By coincidence, his path crosses with that of Meryem and Cemal. They embark on a journey together that fills their hearts with hope and sets them free.
Already an international bestseller, this lyrical and moving tale juxtaposes the traditional and modern and draws attention to human rights violations against women in the Middle East.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2006
Edition: 1st U.S. ed. --
ISBN: 9780312360535
Branch Call Number: FIC Livan 3558ad 1
Characteristics: viii, 276 p. :,map
Additional Contributors: Fromm, Çidem Aksoy


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JCLJenniferM Jun 25, 2014

interesting look at Turkey and its culture. Disturbing and difficult to read at times from a content perspective.

crankylibrarian Apr 28, 2013

[edit] Less well known than Orhan Pamuk, Livanelli is another literary exponent of the contradictions of modern day Turkish life. 15 year old Meryem realized early on that God hates her: why else would he make her a sinful woman? Why would he kill her mother at her birth? And more significantly, why would he let her be raped by her fearsome uncle, an ultraconservative Muslim sheikh who dominates her small village? With the family honor now stained, Meryem's cousin Cemal is given an assignment: take the fallen girl to Istanbul and kill her. Cemal and Meryem embark on a journey through a swath of Turkish society: intellectuals, moguls, soldiers, revolutionaries, Islamists. Their eventual encounter with a disillusioned academic will have life changing consequences for all three.
There are weaknesses in this translation, and some of the characters seem to be included merely as types rather than fully developed personalities. Still, an intriguing, lyrical picture of a country's discomfort with starkly disparate cultures and values.

Jul 18, 2011

I had stumbled on the movie and very much enjoyed it. Later learned the author had decided not to write the movie or direct it, but actually just write the music. There is one line in the book where he predicts how the movie would be written, but said that is not real life. The movie took out a conventional suspense device, not used in the book. They both are concerned about honour killings, but the book in many ways goes into more depth about the Turkish culture and tells a compelling story. An excellent read

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