Bliss

Bliss

$20.99

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$20.99

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Description

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 SnowBliss 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.”
Entertainment Weekly

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 SnowBliss 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.”
Entertainment Weekly
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. For more information about his background and books, visit his website at www.livaneli.net.

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.

READING GROUP QUESTIONS1. Discuss the reasons why the author may have chosen the title Bliss for his novel. What is its significance?
2. Did you have any ideas or opinions on Turkey before reading the novel? Take a moment to talk about your collective knowledge of Turkish history and culture before and after reading Bliss.
3. Who is your favorite character in Bliss and why? Are there those you like who are, in fact, “unlikable?” Take a moment to talk about the cast of characters——and range of personality types——in the novel.
4. Discuss the two distinct settings of the novel——the small rural village and the larger-than-life city. What does each locale mean to each of the main characters?
5. In what ways do Meryem and Cemal’s encounters with different people on the train shed light on the problems of identity that characterize contemporary Turkey? Also, in what ways is sailing the Aegean Sea symbolic for them both?
6. What are the themes of tradition and modernity, religion vs. secularity, and male domination and female empowerment that resonate throughout Bliss?
7. Each of the main protagonists in Bliss experiences tragedy on a profound, indeed existential level. How would you describe each character’s personal transformation? What unites them in their struggle to overcome their demons?
8. How do you interpret Irfan’s final resolution at the end of the novel about what kind of a life he’s to lead? And what about Meryems?
9. How would you describe Irfan’s relation to Hidayet, a character who never appears in the novel but who’s always in Irfan’s thoughts?
10. One of the chapters in the novel is titled “At Night Don Quixote, Sancho Panza in the Morning.” Were there times in your life when you felt the same? Please discuss.
11. At one point in the novel Irfan likens himself and all Turkish intellectuals to “trapeze flyers.” Why?
12. Why is Irfan’s relationship with his parents marked with deep feelings of guilt?
13. What are the differences between Irfan’s and Cemal’s attitudes about national identity and belonging?
14. Discuss the ambassador’s comment that there are three phases in the life of an individual: camel phase, lion phase, and childhood phase.
15. There are numerous references to mythical figures and stories in the novel. Why do you think the idea of myth has such an important place in Bliss?

“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

Additional information

Weight 1 oz
Dimensions 1 × 6 × 9 cm