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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 listeners say about The Bastard of Istanbul

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Turkish pronunciations are too jarring

I'm not Turkish, but Indian - I feel the narrator's otherwise flawless diction is very jarring when it comes to the ethnic names and words- exaggerated even. Had an effect of taking me out of the story.

2 people found this helpful

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Beautifully narrated.

The story was expected from Elif Shafak . Rich in history and strong characters.

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Very Disappointed For An Elif Shafak Book

Too many characters. The story was all over the place. it just got boring and monotonous. After reading 40 rules and 10 mins & 38 secs, this book was a sheer disappointment.

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What a wonderful and powerful take and tale

Enjoyed this book of one of my favourite authors, who's woven together so many threads of life including resilience in the face of trauma and tragedy; survival and strength of the marginalized communities; sisterhood and solidarity.... All these are located both in Turkey and the United States through which we can taste, smell and saviour this story.

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Kudos to the narrator!

As beautiful an insight as this book is into the relatively lesser known/discussed/advertised Armenian and Turkish cultures, the absolutely marvelous narration by Alix Dunmore is what makes the whole experience truly profound and deeply enjoyable. A beautifully written book and fantastic narration -- loved every bit of it!

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    4 out of 5 stars

poetic writing

this book is a window into the Turkish and Armenian history, especially around the genocide. the characters in the book reminded me of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez book. they come alive in front of your eyes with their individual quirks. the climax is a winner, least expected.

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Very Flat storyline

Other than tge narrator's impeccable pronounciations, the story is so much predictable and divieting from the main story that its difficult to continue. All the while you wait for some good turn the story but ig just goes on without a point

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Must Listen to Audible

This book really leaves you stunned !! You know that there’s a connection between Asya and Armanoush but you can’t make it out until it is revealed! It’s so darn good, also the pronunciations are soooo goood! Audiobooks are an experience and this one’s really good.

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What a Book!

I loved it!!! The story, narration, presentation of the characters and everything about the book is laudable! The experience was worth it!

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Brilliant!

What story writing!! amazingly candid and touches your heart. excellent narration! looking forward to the next book by the author

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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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  • Arabian Bee 🐝
  • 18-07-21

Really lovely!

I really enjoyed listening to this book. Good story, flows well with beautifully written descriptions. I am definitely a fan of Elif Shafak, and perhaps her translator too. Alix Dunmore did a really good job differentiating each character in the book.

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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.

3 people found this helpful

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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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  • 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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  • 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

1 person found this helpful

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  • MRS. LUCINDA LEWIS
  • 30-10-21

Enchanting

This complicated family saga is very cleverly constructed allowing the individual personalities to emerge. It is touching, funny, and beautifully narrated.

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  • Vinay D.
  • 27-09-21

Whatever falls from the sky shall not be cursed...

This is a brilliantly woven story that slowly comes together piece by piece, revealing the the complex past of its various characters. The characters themselves are beautifully created each with its own unique ghosts. All set in the rich and detailed backdrop of Istanbul, one of my very favourite cities.
At first I wasn’t sure this book was for me and it was my first book by Elif Shafak. But I’m glad I stayed with it.
Also praise must be given to the fantastic narration skills of Alix Dunmore, with such a fantastic ability of delivering accurate accents and voices.
Great book overall

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  • Patrick
  • 10-09-21

Powerful, seductive writing

My second by this author (10 minutes...), a deep dive into a world of the Feminine and Turkish/Armenian history. I was enthralled and appalled, her characters live so vividly (Alix Dunmore is superb!)
A couple of months back I read Mary Ann Sieghart's "The Authority Gap" and only then found out that many men simply won't read a book by a woman ! You fools. I am a 70 year old retired teacher, male, white, irish and various other labels. Elif Shafak writes about people, she moves me.....thank you.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-07-21

Long

I struggled with its length and eventually just starting skipping bits. Cant say I enjoyed it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-07-21

it was a hard listen...

struggled to follow the story
I learnt enough history to keep going but barely made it through.
might skip this author altogether

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  • Kerry Kilner
  • 16-06-21

WONDERFUL!

Elif Shafak is one of the best storytellers I have ever encountered. Read this now!

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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.