cover image Honor


Elif Shafak. Viking, $26.95 (342p) ISBN 978-0-670-78483-7

Shafak (The Bastard of Istanbul) grips the reader from the opening page when, in 1992, Iskender Toprek is finally released from an English prison, to be picked up by his sister Esma. As Esma narrates the shifts in time, space, and perspective, it is soon revealed that Iskender was incarcerated for the murder of his own mother; the details of how and why shared in flashbacks from various members of the Toprek family, Turkish/Kurdish immigrants in 1970s London. Adem, the father, has "abandoned his family for a dancer," while mother Pembe has had an affair of her own. In a school with few immigrant students, only daughter Esma attempts to fit in; youngest son Yunus falls in with a group of squatters who distrust the government, and Iskender attempts to take on the role of protecting his family after Adem leaves the household. Quotidian events in each character's life begin to mesh and Esma tries to make sense of the murder, but they culminate with a surprising turn. Shafak's wonderfully expressive prose, sprinkled throughout with Turkish words and phrases, brings the characters to life in such a way that readers will feel they are living the roles. Agent: Elizabeth Sheinkman, William Morris Endeavor (UK) (Mar.)