Friday, April 26, 2013

'Honour' by Elif Shafak

I've just finished reading this great book. It was on the longlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction, and quite frankly, if this didn't make the shortlist then the shortlisted books must be amazing this year. Elif Shafak is an author I hadn't come across. Born in France she is the most widely read woman writer in Turkey. Writing in both Turkish and English, her previous novel The Forty Rules of Love  sold over 600,000 copies and she is the recipient of prestigious honours and awards.

Honour is a book with so much depth as we follow one families journey covering their origins in a village near the river Euphrates in Turkey and their move to Hackney, London. But this is not just another story about an immigrant family settling in London. This is a story that draws strongly on its Eastern sense of tradition and the secrets that are kept over generations, repeating themselves destructively. It is a tragedy in almost Shakespearian proportions and one with such a superb twist in the tale that leaves you almost gasping with its cleverness. It is really a treasure in story-telling.

At it's centre is an honour killing but this almost becomes a side issue in the branching stories that we follow concerning each member and the role they play. The core of the plot centres around Pembe, a Turkish wife, mother, sister and daughter. Her connections from each of these roles each play their part in the tale- her useless husband who repeats the mistakes of his father, her children who each play a vital role in the story, her twin sister whose actions affect her whole future and her father, traditional and honour bound himself. The book is an insight into the traditional Turkish culture and also a picture of the difficulties of adapting to new cultures.

Honour is a great introduction to the writing of Elif Shafak that will leave you reeling from its final tie ups in the story and wanting to read more of this talented authors work.

Honour is published by Penguin Books

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