The summer is at its height. I spend serious part of my time in brainstorming the structure of my Master thesis writing on Women’s digital activism or trying to figure out how new media and technology could enhance women’s participation in economic and political life and allow them to increase their self-expression and promote social change. Or Women who stand out.
Among the readings I appreciate a lot these days happens to be Women and Media, A Critical Introduction by Carolyn M. Bayerly and Karen Ross. The book is an engaging study on the ambiguous relation between women and media, especially since the rise of the feminist movements in the 1970s, which examines the role of the women in and outside the media and what kind of obstacles they have encountered to turn from marginalized voices into changemakers.
The second work which is escorting me through the first week of July is Honour by Elif Shafak.
By opening the first page and coming across the words:
When I was seven years old, we lived in a green house. One of our neighbours, a talented tailor, would often beat his wife. In the evenings we listed to the shouts, the cries, the swearing. In the mornings we went on with our lives as usual. The entire neighbourhood pretended not to have heard, not to have seen.
This novel is dedicated to those who hear, those who see.
I felt the harmonious blending with the topic about women who stand out, which occupies my mind recently.
After The Forty Rules of Love, a mythical search for the self and The Flea Palace, a vivid, amusing social realism in the apartment block in Istanbul, Honour is the third pleasurable reading by the charming Elif Shafak I had welcomed.
Retrospectively portraying the destiny of a Kurdish-Turkish family between Istanbul and London, the book leaves a taste of bitter anachronism, a collision between ancient, time-worn morality and recent social order.
Pembe comes to the world a bit after the end of the Second World War in a tiny Kurdish village, together with her twin sister Jamila in a family of six other daughter. Their mother takes their birth as a punishment by Allah as she always wanted to have a son.
Adem walks through his life fighting with the respect and fear towards his alcoholised father and the shame that his mother has left with another man.
In the beginning of the 1970s they leave Istanbul and move to London, hoping that their children would grown ut without a mark of genetically bequeathed misfortunes, but… it is hard to run away from destiny…
Honour is an enchanting reading which reveals other themes that have been always fascinating me like difficulties of the immigrant life, about the dilemma between tradition dictated by religion and personal choice, when moral believes turn into a crime; about the betrayal.
And undoubtedly, each time when we mention a book we like, inevitably we recall some circumstances which were accompanying the reading; some life events we were going through while the book stayed on our nightstand.
Honour would leave a mark for an ancient voyage into dark superstitions of the past and high hopes for the future, would leave a sensation about those sweet and sticky hands cutting the water melon after the big lunch on the table outside in the courtyard; about a place of origin we keep bringing with us even on the longest journey outside of home.