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Honour Paperback – 5 Apr 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (5 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670921157
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670921157
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.5 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elif Shafak is Turkey's most-read woman writer and an award-winning novelist. She writes in both English and Turkish, and has published 13 books, nine of which are novels, including: The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love, Honour and her nonfiction memoir Black Milk. Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages.She has more than one and a half million followers on Twitter: @elif_safak / www.elifshafak.com
Shafak blends Western and Eastern traditions of storytelling, bringing out the voices of women, minorities, subcultures, immigrants and global souls. Defying cliches and transcending boundaries her works draws on different cultures and cities, and reflects a strong interest in history, philosophy, culture, mysticism, Sufism and gender equality.
Shafak is also a political scientist and has taught at various universities in the USA, UK and Turkey. She has written for several international daily & weekly publications, including The Guardian, The New York Times, The Independent and The World post/Huffington post.
She was born in Strasbourg, France, in 1971. She is married with two kids and divides her time between London and Istanbul.

Product Description


Colourfully woven and beguilingly intelligent (Daily Telegraph)

A powerful book; thoughtful, provoking and compassionate (Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat)

A gorgeous, jewelled, luxurious book (The Times)

Rich and wide as the Euphrates river along whose banks it begins and ends, Elif Shafak has woven with masterful care and compassion one immigrant family's heartbreaking story - a story nurtured in the terrible silences between men and women trying to grow within ancient ways, all the while growing past them. I loved this book (Sarah Blake, author of The Postmistress)

Elif Shafak tells stories of great urgency, heart, and intellectual acuity. Honour is a powerful tale of family connection and heartbreak, offering us insight and delight in equal measure. This is a compulsively readable novel, an exquisite and deep rendering of the fullness of life. (Aurelie Sheehan, author of The Anxiety of Everyday Objects)

Shafak will challenge Paulo Coelho's dominance (The Independent)

An honour killing is at the centre of this stunning novel... Exotic, evocative and utterly gripping (The Times)

Lushly and memorably magic-realist... This is an extraordinarily skilfully crafted and ambitious narrative (The Independent)

The book calls to mind The Color Purple in the fierceness of its engagement with male violence and its determination to see its characters to a better place. But Shafak is closer to Isabel Allende in spirit, confidence and charm. Her portrayal of Muslim cultures, both traditional and globalising, is as hopeful as it is politically sophisticated. This alone should gain her the world audience she has long deserved (The Guardian)

In Honour, Shafak treats an important, absorbing subject in a fast-paced, internationally familiar style that will make it accessible to a wide readership (Sunday Times)

Fascinating and gripping - a wonderful novel (Rosamund Lupton, author of Sister)

Vivid storytelling... that explores the darkest aspects of faith and love (Sunday Telegraph)

Moving, subtle and ultimately hopeful, Honour is further proof that Shafak is the most exciting Turkish novelist to reach western readers in years (Irish Times)

About the Author

Elif Shafak is the acclaimed author of The Bastard of Istanbul and The Forty Rules of Love and is the most widely read female novelist in Turkey. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She is a contributor for The Telegraph, Guardian and the New York Times and her TED talk on the politics of fiction has received 500 000 viewers since July 2010. She is married with two children and divides her time between Istanbul and London.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Doha VINE VOICE on 16 May 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Honour opens with Iskender's release from prison.

What follows is a sad and strange alternation of pasts and present, chronicling the lives of the members of the Toprak family, and anyone connected to them: Pembe and Adem, their children - charismatic Iskender, rebellious Esma, and reserved and thoughtful Younus; their parents and their childhood, their children's adulthoods, their mistakes and their tragedies, happinesses and despair, triumphs and failures - all of it is contained in these 352 pages.

Everything leads up to or away from 30th November, 1978 - the day Iskender Toprak commits a horrifying crime. It spans decades and miles, leaping from point to point in space and time, yet always coming back to that fateful day - how did it happen, why did it happen? Who is really responsible? How does a status quo so ruthlessly cut down its victims? Who *are* the victims, or is everyone complicit, a perpetrator? I think what best sums up what underlies this book is what Shafak writes, that 'men have honour - women have shame'.

It's such a nuanced and careful writing of the cultural backdrop - doing justice not only to Eastern culture (in this case Turkish and Kurdish), but also to Western, and to the peculiar tragedy of cultural immiscibility - forgetting the obvious East/West front, Shafak protrays so many levels of difference: Kurdish/Turkish, male/female, urban/rural, rich/poor, white/non-white, married/unmarried, sonless/with sons, virgin/tainted, captive/captor, victim/aggressor - you can't point at any person and isolate them from everyone else, into a single 'differentness': their differences and sameness are liquid and overlapping, sometimes changing in a minute. There is something so...rich, textured and multilayered about Shafak's narrative.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Mark Meynell VINE VOICE on 17 April 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an agonising tale of families, love and tragic misunderstandings. But it is so acutely observed and sensitively handled that it is hard to put down. It is as much about the British immigrant experience as it is about Turkish & Kurdish culture - the clashes are inevitable.

Initially at least, it is little confusing to follow as we flit from generation to generation of one extended family. One minute we're in a very rural community on the banks of the Euphrates, the next minute we're in East London 25 years later, then we're whisked to a prison outside Shrewsbury in the early 90s. This gives it a kaleidoscopic feel - it is disorientating. But then perhaps that is the point. For just like the immigrants of the story, it's hard to know where you are at times.

The obvious theme of the book's title is a difficult one, and hard for westerners to fully appreciate. It takes an insider like Elif Shafak, who has known both worlds first hand, to be able to articulate it well. What comes across so clearly are the double standards of what is acceptable, or 'honourable' for men and women. Things are so clearly unfair - and the consequences are truly terrible. But as one hears more about so called 'honour killings' in the media, it is vital to understand the mentality behind them (if there is a logic to them at all) - and this book will go a long way to helping with that. We in the West are so atomised that our families now barely even count as nuclear - the idea of loyalties and responsibilities to wider family members seems increasingly alien. But what this book tentatively seems to suggest is that neither west nor middle east has it quite right. Extended family relationships can also be distorted and dysfunctional. Both worlds leave one crying for something better...

This is beautifully written and poignant book. And one that can only improve mutual cultural understanding.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Purpleheart TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
'My mother died twice. I promised myself I would not let her story be forgotten, but I could never find the time or the will or the courage to write about it.' The novel's first chapter opens in 1990s London where Esma describes the normal life of a North London mother, taking her twin girls to a birthday party. Later we learn that she will be going to pick up her brother Iskender from Shrewsbury prison and the story of why he is there unfolds gradually throughout the novel.

The next chapter takes us to 1945 and to the birth of Esma's mother and her twin sister. In that description Shafak is able to impart much of the cultural norms of Turkish Kurds without being didactic. Their mother Naze already six daughters and the twin girls are unwanted in a culture where women are unvalued and mothers make little sultans out of their sons. Naze wants to call the twins Bext and Bese, Kurdish for Destiny and Enough. Their father renames them Pembe and Jamila, Pink and Beautiful, though the girls are known by both names. Later, Pembe moves to London with her husband, Adem, and their two children and Jamila remains in Turkey where she becomes a midwife. These multiple narratives are explored throughout the novel as Elif Shafak lays out what happens when old customs are kept in new countries. Shafak is excellent at imparting a sense of time and place and builds the tension that leads to the tragedy of an 'honour' killing.  

'It was all because women were made of the lightest cambric, Naze continued, whereas men were cut of thick, dark fabric. That is how God had tailored the two: one superior to the other. As to why He had done that, it wasn't up to human beings to question ...
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