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Book 41 Completed

July 12, 2010

This foray into Turkish literature was successful. Bliss by OZ Livaneli was good. This is a story of Maryem — exiled from her village after being raped by her uncle, her cousin Cemal — a hardened and hate-filled soldier ordered to kill her to honor his family, and Irfan — a professor who leaves his wife and escapes his responsibilities. The book delves into many aspects of Muslim faith, Turkish traditions, and portraits of the people of Turkey; although, some seem to be purposefully stereotypical, the crux of this story rests on Maryem and Cemal and that story kept me interested.

The professor’s sections weren’t quite as interesting to me. As a reader, I knew he had to connect with the other two main characters at some point, and I was eager for that to happen. Those sections seemed written solely to provide a more balanced view of Turkey’s politics and religious fanaticism. Maryem and Cemal, both the products of extreme Muslim traditions, struggle with the dichotomy of what they believe to be right in the eyes of God and what they see happening in Istanbul. Cemal is certain that the Qur’an tells people to stone girls who have been defiled (even raped) and that he is doing the Lord’s work by killing his cousin. People are starting to realize that the old village laws are outdated, but not many people are willing to do anything about it. Many people in the book just advise Cemal to “kill her quickly.”

Many different aspects of Turkey are covered here and it was a pretty easy book to read and appreciate. Good and decent — worth checking out at some point. Not a brilliant masterpiece, but I was sold on the story and interested in the characters — what else can you ask for?

PS. Later — as an ENTIRE BLOG POST — I am going to discuss writing about female menstruation in books. From the cliche’ “I-just-started-my-period-and-I-think-I’m-dying” scene that happens ALL THE TIME. (I have a lot of female friends. NONE of us — with ¬†mothers, without mothers, girly-girls, tom-boys — thought we were dying. Where did this come from? Why do authors perpetuate it?) And from male authors trying to write about menstrual cramps. (I don’t have balls, so I can’t possibly describe how it would feel to get kicked in them. But why does every man think he knows what cramps feel like?) To detailed scenes about pads and tampons. I just can’t see the literary merit in describing, at length, the menstrual cycle. And authors come up with eye-roll-inducing methods of describing it too. I read one book where the author (MALE — of course) referred to it as the main character’s “monthly gift” over twenty times. *big sigh*

Anything else you’d like the author world to put a moratorium on while we’re at it??

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