Bliss by O.Z. Livaneli
A Novel

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Synopsis

Meryem, a fifteen-year-old girl, lives in a rural village on the shores of Lake Van in Eastern Turkey.  Her simple life changes dramatically after her uncle, a sheikh in a dervish order, rapes her.  She is considered an outcast for shaming her family.  When she is locked in a shed and left alone for days, she comes to the painful realization that her family expects her to hang herself with a length of rope left on the dirt floor.  But she is defiant.
 
As tradition still has it, a judgment must be made in the name of honor.  She is told she is to be taken to Istanbul, a shining city she envisions being just over the nearest mountain.  Many girls from her village have "gone to Istanbul," and she assumes it must be a wonderful place since not one has returned.  In fact, those girls have been the victims of "honor-killings."
 
Cemal, Meryem's cousin, a commando in the army, has been fighting in the mountains against the rebels.  On his return home, he is welcomed as a hero though he has been severely traumatized by his war experiences.  His father, who had violated Meryem, charges Cemal with the task of executing his cousin's punishment. As he and Mereym begin their journey, they proceed through the marketplace where the townspeople have gathered, some weeping and others mocking her.
 
In Istanbul, a Harvard-educated professor named Irfan lives an elite existence. He has published many books, hosts a radio show, and seems to enjoy success and jet-set freedom.  He revolts against the routine of his soulless life, deciding to leave his wealthy wife and Istanbul.  He charters a boat to sail the Aegean . By coincidence, his path crosses with that of Meryem and Cemal.  They embark on a journey together that fills their hearts with hope and sets them free.
 
Already an international bestseller, this lyrical and moving tale juxtaposes the traditional and modern and draws attention to human rights violations against women in the Middle East.
 

About O.Z. Livaneli

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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 Frienship Committee.  He was elected a Member of Parliament in 2002.
 
Published December 3, 2013 by St. Martin's Press. 287 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Business & Economics. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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When her older cousin Cemal returns from fighting in the Turkish army against the Kurds, his father, the family’s religious leader (and Meryem’s secret rapist), orders him to take Meryem to Istanbul and make her “disappear,” the typical fate of defiled village girls.

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Publishers Weekly

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Cemal falters at the moment of decision and, instead of murdering Meryem, travels with her to the seaside, where they encounter Irfan, a successful Istanbul professor who, plagued by insomnia and anxiety, has fled his cushy life to set sail in the Aegean Sea.

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Entertainment Weekly

Originally posted Oct 20, 2006 Published in issue #904 Oct 27, 2006 Order article reprints

Oct 20 2006 | Read Full Review of Bliss: A Novel

Variety

He orders his son, Cemal (Murat Han), fresh out of military service, to take Meryem to Istanbul and quietly dispose of her en route.

May 08 2007 | Read Full Review of Bliss: A Novel

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