It hasn’t been long since I started reading novels from Middle Eastern authors, among whom Turkish writer, Elif Shafak, my first read being “The Bastard of Istanbul”.
“Honour” is my second read from the author and to be honest I was not 100% sure I wanted to tackle a subject that is controversial; honor killing. However, I slid the book among a couple of other, bought it, got it home and left it on my bookshelf for a few weeks before grabbing it for a night read a few days ago. Contrary to other books, I felt I was pushing myself to read the first couple of chapters before the plot started to unfold and the story behind the characters started to interest me.
“Honour” is the life of a Turkish/ Kurdish family who immigrated to London in the 1970s. The book is divided into different time span and space. We have a remote Kurdish village in Turkey around the 1940’s, London during the 1970’s. And at last, 1990’s London within the confines of a prison cell and the home of one of the characters, Esma.
The story is summarized as such:
Pembe and Adem Torpak leave Turkey for London. There they make new lives for their family. Yet the traditions and beliefs of their home come with them – carried in the blood of their children, Iskender and Esma. Trapped by past mistakes, the Torpak children find their lives torn apart and transformed by a brutal and chilling crime. Set in Turkey and London in the 1970s, Honour explores pain and loss, loyalty and betrayal, the clash of tradition and modernity, as well as the love and heartbreak that can tear a family apart.
The book narrates the murder of the mother figure of the Torpak family by her eldest son, Iskender, who in turn is paying for his crime in a prison cell and voicing his story through written letters (1990’s). If you have noticed I unconsciously wrote murder and not honour killing because that is what I believe it should be labelled. I, being firmly opposed to any kind of violence when diplomacy is an available option.
“Honour” further paints the level of intolerance of western countries towards immigrants. Something that is not far-fetched from modern day society. Moreover, it shows the resistance of full integration and clash of values between the immigrants and their adoptive country.
This book affected me. Born and raised in the Middle East, I have seen the importance of the role of the Arab man in society and especially within his family. I have seen the acceptance of the Arab women of their limited role as well. This model of upbringing clashed with my own upbringing which was a blend of Middle Eastern and western values (having lived in Canada during my childhood and stayed in the UK during my adulthood).
And like any story the end plot surprises the reader with a final twist. I am not going to say more. Grab the book and have a good read!
Bookish Bookworm.. xo