I am a big fan of Elif Şafak. I read almost all of her books till now but when i saw her recent novel “Aşk” (Love) on the shelves of bookstores, i was a bit disappointed and felt reluctant to read it because just assessing the title and the book cover (all in pink with a light pink heart on the front cover), i just thought that it is another classical love story prevailing on the shelves lately.
So many people around me read the book within months, so many people were still reading it around me on the bus or the underground, so many people were carrying the book in their hands or handbags while passing by me. And last week suddenly i just went to bookstore and bought the book to find out what was there attracting so many people’s attention. I read the book in 5 days (415 pages) and i read it slowly on purpose in order not to see “the end” and i came to see that all i had was prejudice against the book as it was totally different from what i had thought!
No need to flatter or glorify the writing skills of Elif Şafak as it is already well-known especially in Turkey and she is considered under the same category with Orhan Pamuk who has already won a nobel prize. And again in this book she was just excellent. The storyline, the characters, the choice of words, the decriptions, everything was just outstanding carrying the trace of perfection. I usually draw/mark the lines that i like in a book but i didn’t/couldn’t in this book because each and every sentence was just an excellent quote.
The topicline of the book is LOVE as suggested by the title. But it is not just a earthly love occuring between a woman and a man; it is rather about a holy love under islamic mysticism/sufism. And mostly the eartly love is interwoven with the mystic love.
There is a novel within the novel so two different stories are processed at the same time going on at different time points and at different places. One is talking about the present, about a married woman with three children living in Boston, about her searches for love, and her struggles to get rid of the vicious circle in her entire life, and the other tells us about the past, about Mevlana and his soulmate Şems living in Konya. And these two stories are just to be intersected by a mysterious writer (A. Z. Zahara) teaching the reader the most basic elements of love, even proving that the two people can love each other without seeing or hearing one another at all.
Unfortunately i don’t have the book in English version, and in fact i’m not sure whether it is published in English or not yet. Still i want to share some passages with you which i loved, however i will provide the translation myself at least to give you some slight idea of the meaning:
Aklın kimyası ile Aşkın kimyası başkadır. Akıl temkinlidir. Korka korka atar adımlarını. ‘Aman sakın kendini’ diye tembihler. Halbuki aşk öyle mi? Onun tek dediği: ‘Bırak kendini, ko gitsin!’ Akıl kolay kolay yıkılmaz. Aşk ise kendini yıpratır, harap düşer. Halbuki hazineler ve defineler yıkıntılar arasında olur. Ne varsa harap bir kalpte var! (Page. 95)
The chemistry of mind and the chemistry of heart are just different. The mind is just cautious. It moves with hesitant steps. Always warns ‘Just be careful’. But what about the love? Only thing love advices is ‘Let it go!’ The mind is difficult to demolish. However, love overwears itself, falls into ruins. But the treasury is found among the ruins. A devasted heart worths anything!
No matter how much i try to describe the book, no matter how much i try to translate some lines, no matter how much i sound enthusiastic about it, i am just unable to render the true and the exact power of the book. What can i say?! The love is hidden between the pages…Just go and get it!