From Publishers Weekly
An evocative new translation of a second novel by the author of Ali and Nino, this rich and memorable work follows one woman's journeys in the landscape of exile and love in post-WWI Europe. And while it was written in 1938, references to the strained relationship between Muslims and Christians are prescient. Asiadeh Anbari is the young daughter of a Turkish pasha in exile following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Promised as a bride to the former prince, Asiadeh is now adrift in Berlin. She meets Dr. Hassa, a Viennese laryngologist whose attentions prove both terrifying and entrancing. Though Hassa and his Western ways are at times bewildering to Asiadeh, the two fall in love. Said masterfully captures the fragility of their cultural boundaries, and the resulting love story is painfully poignant. Asiadeh pens a desperate letter to her former betrothed, asking him to release her from her obligation to him. Miraculously, the letter reaches the prince in hiding, who, overwhelmed by his own sorrow and loss, responds, urging her to follow any path that may grant her peace. Asiadeh and Hassa marry, although neither proves truly unencumbered by the past. On settling in Vienna, Asiadeh seems to lose both her language and bearings, trapped in a cold country in which she is continuously and profoundly misunderstood. It is then that the prince, alone and hungry for his homeland, comes to claim her. What follows is a passionate and heartbreaking story of love and loss on many different levels. Like the Asiatic musical scale referenced so often in the narrative, this novel is hauntingly beautiful, a lyrical and moving tribute to the meaning of homeland. (Nov.)Forecast: Appearing in the same season as Orhan Pamuk's My Name Is Red, this brilliant exploration of cultural heritage could be a successful handsell to readers interested in Turkish history and culture.
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From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Nineteen-year-old Asiadeh and her father, members of the Turkish royal court, are living in exile in Berlin after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Prince Abdul-Kerim, to whom she was promised in marriage, has disappeared entirely, and Asiadeh is left with no precedence for how a devout Muslim girl responds to such circumstances. Meanwhile, with every step a culture shock, she is learning what it means to live in the West with "nonbelievers," including Dr. Alex Hassa, who presumes to court her and introduce her to an outrageous world of bathing suits, divorcees, and married couples who are childless by choice. It is only after she marries Hassa that the prince-now a New York City-dwelling screenwriter who feels empty without Islam-seeks her out to claim her hand. Said's acute depictions of mounting cultural misunderstandings rival E. M. Forster's, and everything from the descriptions of lavish, fateful parties to the treatment of identity and destiny recalls The Great Gatsby. Set in 1928, the novel could not be more relevant today, and appeals on tragic, comic, romantic, and political levels. Asiadeh is an intelligent and headstrong protagonist, and one gets an excellent look at how hard it can be to accept social conventions that are not one's own-and how words like "dignity" and "marriage" can mean such different things to different people. This is a compelling, important book that raises many questions, and would make a particularly good choice for a YA book club.Emily Lloyd, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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