‘Honor’ by Elif Shafak

When East and West converge, you are in for a good story. Elif Shafak has once again produced a brilliant work of fiction that is bound to get you thinking beyond the typed word. I found myself debating all of the myriad themes and travelling the avenues they created in my mind beyond the last page.


Honour image

‘Honor’ follows the story of Kurdish-born twins Pembe and Jamila. Pembe moves to England with her husband, Adem, while Jamila becomes an almost mystical midwife in the countryside of her own land. Living vastly different lives, this is the dramatic story of misunderstanding, tradition in a foreign land and its effects on a family divided by such tradition. 


After Adem leaves Pembe, their son, Iskender, takes over as head of the household. Forced to uphold the honour of his family, he feels forced to act when he finds out about what appears to be an affair his mother is having in the absence of his father, an act of shame that cannot go unpunished.


Flitting between two very different worlds, ‘Honor’ is captivating and disturbing. One look at the news these days, it is easy for the western world to cast judgment on decisions driven by tradition in the general sense. This book, however, is a reminder of the human lives behind those traditions and of all of the extraneous forces that come into play in these people’s decisions.