Book Review: The Bastard of Istanbul


I had this book on my shelf for a long time, for like 6 months. Ever since I got back from Istanbul last December & i;ve been wanting to read it but couldn’t find the time. Now, that students started getting absent, I had the time to finish the book in almost a week.

The story is about a rebellious Turkish girl who didn’t follow the rules, customs or traditions of her country nor family & didn’t follow the rules of her religion Islam, which her family thinks led her to get pregnant & have a bastard child. Asya, the bastard girl was raised by her 3 aunts & mother. All of them she called “Auntie”. Like her mother, she turned out to be rebellious too. An Armenian American girl called Armanoush wants to visit Istanbul to search for the history of her family who was butchered & deported by the Ottoman empire. She meets Asya & forms a special relationship which brings her to great discoveries, both of them.

I’ve got to admit, I loved Elif’s writing style, very heart touching, easy to read & comprehend. but one thing I didn’t like which was using adjectives to refer to certain characters in the novel that didn’t have much to say. I know she wanted to criticize her society & how closed it was even though it was freed by Ataturk, still the freedom of speech wasn’t literally a “freedom”, but it was very distracting & confusing at times.

The story line is very interesting, it starts slow but then speeds up, next thing you know you’re at the climax part & the story is about to end. I didn’t feel there was a main character or hero in the story. Zeliha (the mother), Asya (the bastard) and Armanoush (the Armenian girl) were kinda equal in their importance to the story, which was full of literature & history.

From the way of writing, you feel the bitterness & sadness in the writer’s words. She wants to criticize Turkey but at the same time she wants to show the good side of her country, her people & her religion. Very brave & I applaud for her.

This book is highly recommended & can’t wait to start reading for her again.

Categories: Books | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Bastard of Istanbul

  1. salsachica

    I really enjoy reading Elif Shafak’s books, very refreshing potrayal of characters.

    • This was my first read for her but won’t be the last!

      • salsachica

        The forty rules of love was the first book I read by shafak, pretty interesting “journey” whilst reading that.

      • Oh i have that 🙂

  2. tanyanasser

    from where did u get it cause I did not find it here

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