Birds Without WingsBook - 2004
In his first novel since Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernières creates a world, populates it with characters as real as our best friends, and launches it into the maelstrom of twentieth-century history. The setting is a small village in southwestern Anatolia in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. Everyone there speaks Turkish, though they write it in Greek letters. It’s a place that has room for a professional blasphemer; where a brokenhearted aga finds solace in the arms of a Circassian courtesan who isn’t Circassian at all; where a beautiful Christian girl named Philothei is engaged to a Muslim boy named Ibrahim. But all of this will change when Turkey enters the modern world. Epic in sweep, intoxicating in its sensual detail, Birds Without Wings is an enchantment.
Baker & Taylor
In a small town in Anatolia in the finals days of the Ottoman Empire, the lives of its inhabitants--Armenians, Christians, and Muslims--peacefully intertwine, until Mustafa Kemal, a powerful military leader, conscripts the young men of the village to battle the invading Western European forces during the Great War, and religious fanaticism and nationalism destroy the peace. Reader's Guide available. Reprint. 60,000 first printing.
Blackwell North Amer
It is the story of a small coastal town in South West Anatolia in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire told in the richly varied voices of the people - Christians and Muslims of Turkish and Greek and Armenian descent - whose lives are rooted there, intertwined for untold years. There is Iskander, the potter and local font of proverbial wisdom; Karatavuk - Iskander's son - and Mehmetcik, childhood friends whose playground stretches across the hills above the town, where Mehmetcik teaches the illiterate Karatavuk to write Turkish in Greek letters. There are Father Kristoforos and Abdulhamid Hodja, holy men of different faiths who greet each other as "Infidel Efendi"; Rustem Bey, the landlord and protector of the town, whose wife is stoned for the sin of adultery. There is a man known as "the Dog" because of his hideous aspect, who lives among the Lycian tombs; and another known as "the Blasphemer," who wanders the town cursing God and all of his representatives of all faiths. And there is Philothei, the Christian girl of legendary beauty, courted from infancy by Ibrahim the goatherd - a great love that culminates in tragedy and madness. But Birds Without Wings is also the story of Mustafa Kemal, whose military genius will lead him to victory against the invading Western European forces of the Great War and a reshaping of the whole region.
During the finals days of the Ottoman Empire, the young men of the village are instructed to battle the invading forces during the Great War and destroy the peace.
- Notable Book List - 2005
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“The word ‘Ottoman’ would fall into disuse and disrepute until such time as the inevitable revisions of later days, when the world would realise that the Ottoman Empire had been cosmopolitan and tolerant.”
“Give me nice polite hypocrisy any time, which is something all of us could profitably learn from the English.” No offence to the English - after all, the author is British.
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