This novel is about multiple families intersecting around culture, marriage, death, life, abortion, Asia Minor, Djinn’s, and not so oblique literary references.
This starts with an aborted abortion. Taking place in multiple settings, namely California and Istanbul, this novel deals with a family of Turks and a family of Armenians being unwittingly and unwantingly shoved together. There’s some second marriages, sex, life, coffee, talks about the world. And so forth.
Overall the writing itself I liked just fine and found a lot of the novel to be very compelling. But a few things irked me. For one, this tries to be everything. Elif Shafak is not the only Turkish writer I have ever read and she’s not the best Turkish writer I have ever read, but her novel is structured a little too much as if she feels that this is the only chance a reader will ever be able to learn about Turkey. And so, when there’s a little too much going on, it’s way too much. For example, I don’t think the references to Turkish mythology is really justified in this novel. Nor I am certain that we need about 50 pages worth of telling the story of Turkey as a nation. It’s a little too much trying to be Gabriel Garcia Marquez and what a lot of Latin American writers called “Macondism” or trying to be the spokesperson for a part of the world underrepresented by western readers.
Which leads me to my other annoyance. Don’t copy a format and also literally namedrop the writers you’re copying. You’re punching above your weight when you start hinting at doing a thing other writers made their whole career on. So when you start referencing Gabriel Garcia Marquez in your writing, and doing his thing, you’re going to draw some uncomfortable comparison, and likely be lacking. And of course same goes if you make repeated referenced to Kundera and The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
So anyway, it was ok.