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The Bastard of Istanbul

Written by: Elif Shafak
Narrated by: Alix Dunmore
Length: 11 hrs and 4 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of The Bastard of Istanbul by Edif Shafak.  

One rainy afternoon in Istanbul, a woman walks into a doctor's surgery. 'I need to have an abortion', she announces. She is 19 years old and unmarried. What happens that afternoon will change her life.  

Twenty years later, Asya Kazanci lives with her extended family in Istanbul. Due to a mysterious family curse, all the Kaznci men die in their early 40s, so it is a house of women, among them Asya's beautiful, rebellious mother, Zeliha, who runs a tattoo parlour; Banu, who has newly discovered herself as clairvoyant; and Feride, a hypochondriac obsessed with impending disaster. And when Asya's Armenian American cousin Armanoush comes to stay, long hidden family secrets connected with Turkey's turbulent past begin to emerge. 

©2019 Elif Shafak (P)2019 Penguin Books Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Wonderfully magical, incredible, breathtaking...will have you gasping with disbelief in the last few pages." (Sunday Express)

"A beautiful book, the finest I have read about Turkey." (Irish Times

"Heartbreaking...the beauty of Islam pervades Shafak's book." (Vogue)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Turkish delight

Narrator was good and the writing of this author is quite good.. Characters were built

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was worth the time

I liked the narration the best, nice book. The ending is a bit predictable but the story gives good details on life in Istanbul.

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  • Rawan
  • 17-08-19

Distracting details

Too many distracting details in an other wise intriguing story. Taught me so much about Armenians and the Ottoman Empire.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Gabor
  • 21-12-19

I enjoyed this book from beginning to end

I have a private Amazon wish list for books that have been recommended to me or that I have read about somewhere. It is a kind of list of books I ought to read. And so The Bastard of Istanbul found its way into that list a couple of years ago, and I cannot remember why.

Recently I bought this title as an audiobook. I am so glad I did.

The story is set in Istanbul. It starts in about 1985, when Zeliha, aged 19, goes to an abortion clinic. Except the termination does not take place. At the same time, in Arizona, Rose, who is divorced from an Armenian American husband by whom she has a daughter Armanoush (who Rose calls Amy), meets a young Turkish student.

Move forward to 2005. Zeliha has a daughter, Asya. Armanoush visits Istanbul and stays with her father’s family – yes you guessed it. And so the story becomes about the intertwined stories of these families, going back to the time of the Ottoman genocide against the Armenians. And all the history comes to a climax in the present.

This novel is very well written. I have just checked, and it seems Shafak wrote this novel in English (I had been going to compliment the translator!). The narration by Alix Dunmore is excellent.

I recommend The Bastard of Istanbul very highly. 10 out of 10.

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  • Michelle S.
  • 12-02-20

Very engaging story and characters

I really enjoyed this book. The characters, their stories, the backdrop of the city, were all wonderful. Really sad at times but hilariously funny at others. Just a wonderful book. This is the first I have read by this author but I purchased another straight after this.

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  • M. King
  • 08-12-19

Beautifully written as ever

I love Elif Shafak's writing, its mix of history, culture, humour, social commentary with its dark twists and all-pervading sense of timeless sisterhood.
Although I found this book slow to start, with a mildly irritating myriad of indistinguishable names to grapple with, it drew me in and kept me rapt for its shocking conclusion.
The downside for me was the speed of narration. Elif Shafak's writing is so beautiful you want to savour it, and I found I was missing the best of it just trying to keep up as the narrator thundered along like a steam train. It was rather more difficult trying to concentrate on all the non-English names, to keep up with who is who which made it all a bit stressful in the beginning. I'm glad I persevered, though because I find this author's novels stay with me long after I've finished them and challenge the way I view other societies.

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  • j r mitchell
  • 17-11-19

aced it again...

another really enjoyable listen, and actually my new favourite from Elif Shafek. also really enjoy the narration by Alix Dunmore

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  • Eszter Pos
  • 15-12-19

Touching and soul forming

Amazing story, educating of a topic that is very much forgotten and made forgotten by those in power today and throughout the second half of the last century. Lot to learn for both sides but mainly to learn of the real fate and lives of the millions affected by the wheels turned by the majority ignoring the minority.
Wonderful narration! Thank you!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-01-20

Spiders Web

A wonderful story as intricate as a spiders web. Believable characters and in-depth consideration of a range of perspectives. Families often seem strange and their truth stranger than fiction. This family is well worth the read.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-09-19

Frustrating

Full to the brim of stereotypes and frustrating details. Managed to listen to the first 2 hours and couldn't take it anymore.