This is a powerful story told with emotional lyricism and cultural realism. It is also a tale of surprising and liberating change relationships can cause. Liberation assumes several forms: in the physical existence and emotional life of Meryem, a 15 year old girl sentenced by her family to die; the mind of her commando cousin; and the spirit of Irfan, a professor and celebrity fleeing his hollow life in Istanbul. How their lives intertwine and change creates the tension and beauty of this eye-opening (very relatable) novel.— Brant
Fifteen-year-old Meryem lives in a rural village in Eastern Anatolia, Turkey. Her simple, conventional way of life changes dramatically after her uncle, a sheikh in a dervish order, rapes her—and condemns her to death for shaming the family. Asked to carry out the "honor killing" is his son Cemal, a commando in the Turkish army. So begins a long, mystifying voyage for Meryem as her shell-shocked cousin ushers her to the shining metropolis of Istanbul where another troubled soul, the Harvard-educated professor Irfan, embarks on his own journey of transformation—one that catapults him into the heart of Meryem and Cemal's conflict. The crossed-paths and interwoven destinies of these three characters makes for an affecting, by turns brutal and life-affirming portrayal of traditional and modern-day Turkey that no reader will soon forget.
"Livaneli is an essential force in Turkey's musical, cultural, and political scene."
--Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Prize Winner and author of Snow
"Bliss is eye-opening and deeply moving."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Compelling [for] American readers …hard to put down."
--The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"With lush scenes of Turkish life and nuanced depictions of the [characters'] inner lives. . .a convergence of lost, likable souls."
O. Z. Livaneli, one of Turkey's most prominent authors, is also an accomplished composer, and previously served as an elected member of the Turkish Parliament.
About the Author
O.Z. Livaneli is one of Turkey's most prominent and popular authors as well as an accomplished musician and composer, whose works have been recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra. He was held under military detention during the coup of March 12, 1971, and lived in exile for eight years. He studied music in Stockholm, then lived in Paris and Athens, returning to Turkey in 1984. He was one of the founders of the Turkish-Kurdish Peace Movement and the initiator of the Campaign Against Violence in Turkey, and he has made significant contributions to the Greek-Turkish Friendship Committee. He was elected a Member of Parliament in 2002.
“I loved this book so much that I sent a fan letter to the publisher, and demanded to be introduced to the author when I went to Istanbul. Bliss is fresh, original, and warm-hearted, the work of a cosmopolitan insider and multi-talented artist.” —Louis de Bernieres, author of Corelli's Mandolin
“Livaneli is an essential force in Turkey's musical, cultural and political scene.” —Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Prize Winner and author of Snow
“The intersecting destinies of the three heroes present a portrait of Turkey at once tender and compassionate. I am sure they will have a deep influence upon French readers just as they have conquered the hearts of more than a hundred thousand of your compatriots.” —President Jacques Chirac of France, in a letter to the author
“A gripping contemporary story that gets behind stereotypes of exotic Islam to reveal the diversity in individual people and the secrets and lies, cruelty and love, in family, friendship, and public life. This will make a terrific bookclub selection when it reaches paperback.” —Booklist
“Eye-opening and deeply moving—essential for anyone looking for decency in the world today.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“A lyrical novel.” —The Wall Street Journal
“With lush scenes of Turkish life and nuanced depictions of the [characters'] inner lives. . . .a convergence of lost, likable souls.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Livaneli offers readers a fascinating look at the diversity of Turkey today in his American debut.” —Library Journal
“A compelling premise, set in a part of the world that many American readers are curious about. . . hard to put down” —The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A brutal rape and the subsequent death sentence on the defiled girl draws one into the disparate worlds of traditional and modern Turkey. This exciting, sensitively written novel educates and illuminates not only the plight of women but also a society in conflict.” —Barbara Goldsmith, Author and Historian
“Livaneli's novel paints a picture of contemporary Turkey and its archaic culture and shows how torn this country and its people are . . . Livaneli reveals how much collective obedience, respect, and honor mold people and keep them from their happiness. This novel is smart, honest . . . It allows us to understand Turkey and its people a little better and sympathize with them.” —Necla Kelek, German-Turkish sociologist and author of the bestsellers The Foreign Bride and The Lost Sons
“Lyrical, poetic, and magical . . .Livaneli is an extraordinary writer and a master of language . . .I like the way he depicts the real and unknown life of the simple people who live deep in the East with their own age-old codes of life…You will read this book in one breath, without a pause.” —Mikis Theodorakis, composer for Zorba the Greek
“Teens will be drawn to the plight of a girl who has been raped and is then treated as the perpetrator of the crime. Livaneli shows village life and modern city life as two separate realities that coexist in Turkey today. Students interested in human rights and global studies will also appreciate this novel.” —School Library Journal