Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Review: Enlightenment by Maureen Freely

These book reviews are entirely navel-gazing and bland, but yeah, its something I want to get done.

And Enlightenment is an awfully navel-gazing book. Taken from the memories of Ms. Freely's youth in Istanbul, its about a bunch of college kids trying to foment revolution against the heavy-handed (and nefariously Deep) State in '60s Turkey. Its a solid backdrop for a story...true love, lust, the delta between the two, all taking place with Daddy Issues and evading state security. Because when you're 13-20, everything that happens to you is The Most Important Thing Ever. So why not write a book where it actually, in some small way, is like where you staying with your boyfriend has international implications?

I'm obviously a target audience, what with going to Istanbul at a young point in my life. So even though I read reviews where folks complained about not "getting" the locale, I actually do, sorta. And fighting imperialism, rebelling against parents, all that sort of thing is all my sort of thing to. So yeah, if you studied abroad and have an overinflated sense of yourself, you're the target audience too.

Freely is famous for being Orhan Pamuk's translator first and foremost, and this is, I believe her first novel. And it is a bit uneven, and some characters are a bit wooden, and things are generally not absolutely fantastic, or even on Pamuk's level. But it's a fun, taut, pageturner. Its a good mystery/romance novel for twenty-somethings. So its a fun book. I won't necessarily recommend it to all of my friends, but I'd give it to a girl who just came back from studying in Istanbul or something. Its full of coasties, privileged diplomats' kids, and hard-boiled journalists, and everyone in the book is super-fantastic. So its a fun read...just more like Grisham than Pamuk. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

And in case Ms. Freely ever crosses paths with me, I do want to reiterate how much I liked this book.

1 comment:

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