Book Review- Love in Exile by Ayse Kulin

Love in Exile is inspired by the Author’s own forbearers. An intergenerational story set in the sunset years of the Ottoman Empire. Beautifully brings to the fore the conflicts of tradition and modernity unable to negotiate the chasm between idealism and reality. This book is a brilliant kaleidoscope of an evolving Turkish society.

The book is about 2 young people Sabahat and Aram , in love , coming from different religions and their struggle to find acceptance for each other . Their families and the many characters in the families add colour despite taking away from the main story at times . I particularly liked the author’s portrayal of some characters Ahmet Resat and Salih Bey.A generation of seniors like Ahmet Resat and Salih Bey who find themselves to be misfits in the new world. Cast to the sidelines due to the crumbling of the old order ,they find themselves to be inept in the ways of the new order. Salih Bey -who was never able to overcome the heartbreak of having to leave Bosnia-the land of his forefathers . Never able to make peace with the loss of the only way of life he ever knew . Both these men , were trapped within their own minds in a time warp , which was slowly draining them of their lives . The boisterous women and their preoccupations add a humor to the story . The chapter on “Bosnian Boreks” reveals how not much has changed in the Mother-in-Law – Daughter-in-Law radioactive equation  .
The slow pace and the large no of characters makes reading the beginning part a chore. But as I got acquainted with the characters, I was hooked . The language is evocative and flowing. Overall I enjoyed the Book . The end was abrupt but the epilogue made up for it. Though I would still have liked to read a little more on Sabahat and Aram and how finally the families reconciled to their marriage.
Overall , a good read .

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