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Honour [Paperback]

Elif Shafak
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

31 Jan 2013

From the Orange Prize long-listed and award-winning author of The Forty Rules of Love and The Bastard of Istanbul Elif Shafak, Honour is a novel of love, betrayal and a clash of cultures.

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

'My mother died twice. I promised myself I would not let her story be forgotten . . .'

Leaving her twin sister behind, Pembe leaves Turkey for love - following her husband Adem to London. There the Topraks hope to make new lives for themselves and their children. Yet, no matter how far they travel, the traditions and beliefs the Topraks left behind stay with them - carried in the blood.

Their eldest is the boy Iskender, who remembers Turkey and feels betrayal deeper than most. His sister is Esma, who is loyal and true despite the pain and heartache. And, lastly, Yunus, who was born in London, and is shy and different.

Trapped by the mistakes of the past, the Toprak children find their lives shattered and transformed by a brutal act of murder . . .

A powerful novel set in Turkey and London in the 1970s, Honour explores pain and loss, loyalty and betrayal, the trials of the immigrant, the clash of tradition and modernity, as well as the love and heartbreak that too often tears families apart.

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

'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] joins writers such as Hanif Kureishi, Zadie Smith, Monica Ali, Aamer Hussein, Andrea Levy, Hanan al-Shakyh and Leila Aboulela, who offer us fictional glimpses of London's Others' The Independent

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 views since July 2010. She is married with two children and divides her time between Istanbul and London.


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Honour + The Bastard of Istanbul + The Forty Rules of Love
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (31 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670921165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670921164
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,087 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

Review

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

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

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)

[Elif Shafak] joins writers such as Hanif Kureishi, Zadie Smith, Monica Ali, Aamer Hussein, Andrea Levy, Hanan al-Shakyh and Leila Aboulela, who offer us fictional glimpses of London's Others (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)

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)

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

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

Compelling (Mariella Frostrup)

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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the best 12 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There are a number of issues with this book - structurally speaking it's difficult to follow, with a lot of jumping around and little context given for the many shifts. The characterization is very shallow, which has two main consequences - it means that the lack of focus on the honour killings themselves was disappointing, and it was very difficult to build up any empathy for the characters. All in all, it was long, drawn out and difficult to make much progress with - the theme was compelling, but the execution was somewhat poor.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By Mark Meynell TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad, so sad. 16 May 2012
By Doha VINE VOICE
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not convinced. 17 Aug 2012
By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I was convinced neither by the characters nor the plot of this rather contrived book. I was hoping this novel would help me to understand a culture that places honour above humanity and I was expecting something far "grittier". Instead, this fairly conventional family saga was hum-drum and I remained disengaged and therefore unmoved by what should have been shocking and dismaying.

The various strands of the story are not told in chronological order as though this should somehow give the plot greater weight and significance. Things are disclosed by one family member before they happen to another, thus removing all tension. The narrative arc is as lost and broken as the family it portrays. Perhaps this was the author's intention but for me, it didn't come off.

The writing is capable, nothing more, and a story that should have pierced one's heart misses its mark.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I'm a fan of Elif Shafak, I think she's a good writer. This book was good in parts because she can write well. However, she should NOT have set this book partly in London. She should have written it directly in her native tongue and set it purely in Turkey and had it translated. I'm half Turkish and have lived in both London and Istanbul and have traveled around Anatolia. Her London set scenes do not ring true and are shallow and extremely derivative - you've read it all before, the Irish girl who's second or third word is feck and then for the rest of the book doesn't sound as Irish as the non-Irish characters. Coming from a point of view of not judging anyone but trying to show what happens she has been accurate; but because of this, it would be difficult for anyone outside the culture to grasp what she is trying to get across in this book. Also, her penchant for sentimental Lennon-esque let's all love each other quotes gets in the way of what her characters really should be saying. The book also seriously lacked tension in the dialogue and the plot, which she tried to compensate for with the switching time scale. I appreciate that the prose was 'broken' to show the broken family but it just didn't work, I found myself drifting through the book not really bothered what happened to them. Also, the racist scene in the bakery - I don't know, maybe this happened in real life to someone but it didn't ring true with me at all. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Story
Incredibly detailed, sometimes difficult to follow, this book more than makes up for it in the end. Stick with it. Incredible and powerful story about family, honor, and culture.
Published 18 days ago by BETHANY DEVRIES
5.0 out of 5 stars Interwoven family story
The story line is well presented and the characters are believable and complex. Although I haven't yet finished the book I am engrossed and intrigued.
Published 1 month ago by Stewie and Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars EXQUISITE
This is the most compelling book I’ve read in a very long time.

“Honour” is exquisite, sweet and tender (at times almost poetic) but also – given the ‘undertow’ of the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Celia Fife
5.0 out of 5 stars Analysis of dysfunctional family
This was a heart-wrenching portrayal of family dysfunction and what goes wrong when you stop communicating or being truthful to yourself. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Cece de la Vela
3.0 out of 5 stars Not so great
There were some interesting parts to this book, but overall I found it was confusingly written due to its shift between the different generations of the family. Read more
Published 3 months ago by xenofan
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent story
This book gave a real insight into the concept of 'honour killings', particularly the way in which men & women are judged differently in this society. Read more
Published 6 months ago by PamD
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Totally immersed in this gripping story from start to finish. The changes in time and place were well integrated and enhanced the central theme of the story. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mrs. Je Parfitt
3.0 out of 5 stars She could have done a lot better
Elif Shafak has an incredible imagination which has been put to use in 'Honour' in a very overwhelming way. Read more
Published 10 months ago by L. Macleod
4.0 out of 5 stars What a shame
Elif Shafak is a born storyteller, who knows how to hook the reader in a first chapter which ends, "He is my brother. He, a murderer". Read more
Published 10 months ago by Antenna
4.0 out of 5 stars Multi-narrative novel on the themes of shame and honour
'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. Read more
Published 10 months ago by purpleheart
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