Young Turk

Young Turk

A Novel

Book - 2005
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Baker & Taylor
A series of thirteen interconnected stories follows the experiences of a circle of young friends who come of age in the increasingly politicized nation of Turkey before, during, and after World War II, from a psychic girl who foresees the Holocaust, to a Jewish boy who sets off for occupied Greece to rescue his family, to a boy who struggles to save a national poet.

Blackwell North Amer
Through a series of thirteen interwoven tales, Moris Farhi tells the story of a group of young friends coming of age in Turkey, a nation as vivid and beautiful as it is complex. A window onto a pluralistic world where Islam, Christianity, and Judaism coexist and Turks, Armenians, Kurds, and Greeks live side by side, Young Turk is peopled by a rich an eclectic mix of circus performers, schoolchildren, wandering poets, and renegade teachers. An alluring woman introduces a string of teenage boys to the carnal applications of rose-petal jam - and to the sting of first heartbreak. A lovelorn, wandering trapeze artist must exorcize the ghost of a past calamity in order to retain his spot high up in the big tent. A childhood comes to an abrupt end when a boy is inspected for signs of encroaching manhood and summarily denied his tantalizing weekly visits to the women's baths. A young girl endowed with clairvoyance struggles under the weight of the calamities she foresees.
Set in the years surrounding World War II, Young Turk juxtaposes the lives and passions of its unforgettable characters with the tumult of Turkish history.

Publisher: New York : Arcade Pub., 2005, c2004
Edition: 1st North American ed
ISBN: 9781559707640
Characteristics: 391 p. ; 22 cm


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Cdnbookworm Feb 14, 2013

This is a novel made up of thirteen connected stories, each story with a different narrator. The time period ranges from the 1940s to 1959, with not all stories clear on the exact time they take place. The age of the narrator also increases as the stories progress, with the first storyteller Rifat at nine years old as he begins his tale, and the last Ahmet an older man near the end of his life. Most of them are told by young Turks in their teens or early twenties. The stories are about their lives, happy and sad, political and personal, but all full of the experience of life. Most storytellers are male, but not all and women are portrayed as interesting people in their own right throughout. The Turks here are of various ethnicity and religion and one prevailing note is that we are all human, and the strongest Turkey consists of a diverse mix of Turks, a message that the leader Ataturk himself felt true. These stories have passion and an honesty of feeling that captures the reader.
I also learned some things about Turkish history that I didn't know. One example is how during the Christian battles in Spain, Turkey offered haven to all those who were oppressed, both Jews and Muslims. And again during the rise of Hitler, Turkey offered itself as a haven to Jews in Europe. Of course, I also learned of the racial issues within Turkey from the treatment of the Armenians to that of the Jews in 1943.
A very interesting read, with complex and interesting characters.


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