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The Bastard of Istanbul - Elif Shafak Entertaining? Yes. Lively characters? Absolutely. Page turner? By all means. It is what I call the perfect book for holiday. One might as well consider Middlesex and The Kite Runner, not only for the captivating stories but also for the multi-cultural (Turkish-American, Armenian-American, Greek-American, Afghan-American whatever-American) incursion into people's and countries' past and present political / economical / social situation.

Beyond the complicated relationships (which got on my nerves a little bit - the soapy part) and the interesting characters (Zeliha was my favourite, if any doubts), I felt the book as being mostly about Istanbul, a character in itself, torn between two continents and two mentalities, trying to cope with the present and be a cosmopolitan city of the 21st century but still struggling to preserve national identity and values. While reading, I remembered this documentary about the music of Istanbul, so if you're interested in having a treat for your eyes and ears, give it a try.

The gourmand in me was not necessarily pleased (I haven't come to terms with Arabic food yet, though I remember cooking a Libyan recipe once) but challenged. The one thing everybody gets enough of is food, wherever they are: Istanbul, Arizona or California. And if you are really willing and a lot into spices and stuff like that you can mentally combine all the flavours and ingredients and come up with a really satisfied nose :)