Turkish Delights

David R. Slavitt, Author Louisiana State University Press $22.95 (190p) ISBN 978-0-8071-1813-9
Betrayals, sexual revenge and the havoc that family members wreak on one another reverberate through this intriguing novel, in which Slavitt ( Alice at 80 ) splices together three stories with vastly different settings. The first tale recreates the exotic, treacherous world of a Turkish sultan's seraglio--a gilded prison from which Selim, the sultan's son, plans his escape, aided by a black eunuch slave. The second narrative features Pietro, the callow son of a 19th-century Venetian noble family, who tries to elope with his obnoxious brother's treacherous fiancee. In the third tale, set in Cambridge, Mass., in 1975, Asher, a Yale-educated Jewish writer, mulls over his psychoanalysis, impending divorce, vasectomy and guilt over failing to meet his parents' expectations. The book ingeniously curves back on itself: Asher is writing a novel about Selim, whose fate is revealed in the closing pages; Pietro, banished to a monastery where he, too, is writing about Selim, also makes a last-minute re-entry. Slavitt uses the sordid manipulation of the seraglio as a metaphor for family life and for mundane reality. An exotic, touching, oddly ennobling novel. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/03/1993
Release date: 05/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
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