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The Bastard of Istanbul - a Novel by Elif Sharak

One of the issues on which Turkish authorities traditionally placed a ban on is discussion of the Armenian Genocide (1915 - 1919). In The Bastard of Istanbul, Elif Shafak's fictional character, Armanoush, had a grandfather that was murdered in the genocide. Because of this the author was put on trial.

Elif Shafak, the author of "The Bastard of Istanbul"
Elif Shafak, the author of "The Bastard of Istanbul"

Read an excerpt from the novel. Meanwhile, ponder why you think it was found offensive by Turkish authorities.

Even if Elif Shafak (born in 1971) was born in France and has spent parts of her life in Spain, Jordan, Germany and the USA, she has firmly stated that Turkey raised her. She was brought up in Turkey by her modern, career-oriented mum and her devotedly religious and traditional grandmother. Some of her background might be reflected in the excerpt from her novel, The Bastard of Istanbul (2006), that you are about to read.

One of the two main characters in the novel, is the Turkish Asya (19), who has no idea who her father is. She is raised by her affectionate aunts (one of them being her mum) and her grandmother in a grand house in Istanbul. We get to know Asya through Armanoush (19), an Armenian-American girl with an all-American mum, a Turkish stepdad and a biological dad of Armenian ancestry. To find out more about her Armenian family and the genocide that killed more than 1 million Armenians in Turkey, among them her grandfather, Armanoush decides to search for her roots in Istanbul. By this she opposes her Armenian- American friends and family. Since Turkey has continued to deny the genocide, most Armenians in exile consider it both risky and provocative to visit Turkey. Nevertheless, when we meet Armanoush she is in Istanbul and she is with Asya in her Turkish stepfather's family home.

Vocabulary

Before you start reading, you should be familiar with these words.

Vocabulary

These are words that you should be familiar with:

  1. Genocide
  2. Bastard
  3. Borough
  4. Cosmopolitian
  5. Give birth to a child out of wedlock
  6. Reciprocal
  7. Diaspora
  8. Poignant
  9. Contemplate

Tasks

  1. Interactive vocabulary test
  2. Interactive comprehension test

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