"She has a particular genius for depicting backstreet Istanbul, where the myriad cultures of the Ottoman Empire are still in tangled evidence on every family tree."-The New York Times Book Review
Set within a once-stately apartment block in Istanbul, The Flea Palace tells the story of Bonbon Palace, built by Russian noble emigre Pavel Antipov for his wife Agripina at the end of the Tsarist reign. It is now sadly dilapidated, flea-infested, and home to ten very different individuals and their families. Elif Shafak gives us a bird's-eye insight into each apartment, and we see their comic and tragic lives unfold....Continua
The story of The Flea Palace is set in an apartment building from the 1960s in the centre of Istanbul, the so called Bonbon Palace. The name is a tribute to the woman that the once impressing, always unique and now shabby old house had been built for after she had regained the view of colours thanks to a box of candies, each one wrapped into paper of a colour linked to its taste. The building is home to many very peculiar characters. The novel tells the stories of the house, of the neighbourhood where there had been two cemeteries which gain unexpected importance in the course of the novel, of life in modern Istanbul and of the tenants‘ everyday lives. The red thread of the novel and at the same time the connecting element is the seemingly ineradicable stench of rubbish everywhere in the house that attracts all sorts of vermin. Only at the end of the book the tenants and the readers find out what is wrong… and it’s quite an amazing revelation.
All in all it’s a story from today’s Istanbul where people are trying to create their own identity combining the heritage of the old Ottoman, thus Islamic society and the requirements of modern life in a democracy that is European in character.
To cut a long story short: I enjoyed reading the novel very much and recommend it to everyone who is interested to learn more about the Turkish soul and about the life in Istanbul today.
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