At the heart of the Ottoman Empire, in the ancient city of Smyrna, a devastating moment determines the fates of four families. / By Sedat Karagöz / Tony Bar / Istanbul / Almaty / New York
The Silence of Scheherazade
At the heart of the Ottoman Empire, in the ancient city of Smyrna, a devastating moment determines the fates of four families.
On an orange-tinted evening in September 1905, Scheherazade is born to an opium-dazed mother in the ancient city of Smyrna. At the very same moment, a dashing Indian spy arrives in the harbour with a secret mission from the British Empire. He sails in to golden-hued spires and minarets, scents of fig and sycamore, and the cries of street hawkers selling their wares. When he leaves, seventeen years later, it will be to the heavy smell of kerosene and smoke as the city, and its people, are engulfed in flames.
But let us not rush, for much will happen between then and now. Birth, death, romance and grief are all to come as these peaceful, cosmopolitan streets are used as bargaining chips in the wake of the First World War.
Told through the intertwining fates of a Levantine, a Greek, a Turkish and an Armenian family, this unforgettable novel reveals a city, and a culture, now lost to time.
‘This rich tale of love and loss gives voice to the silenced, and adds music to their histories’ Maureen Freely, Chair, English PEN
‘A must-read’ Ayşe Arman, Hürriyet
‘A symphony of literature’ Açık Radyo
‘Defne Suman is a story-teller. She tells the story of how love, emotions and identities are influenced by socio-political events of a lifetime’ Cumhuriyet Newspaper
‘A wonderfully braided story of family secrets set in the magical city of Smyrna, told in luminous prose’ Lou Ureneck, author of Smyrna, September 1922
Defne Suman was born in Istanbul and grew up on Prinkipo Island. She gained a Masters in sociology from the Bosphorus University then worked as a teacher in Thailand and Laos where she studied Far Eastern philosophy and mystic disciplines. She later continued her studies in Oregon, USA and now lives in Athens with her husband. The Silence of Scheherazade was first published in Turkey and Greece in 2016 and is her English language debut.
You can pre-order The Silence of Scheherazade in the UK from Waterstones, Blackwell’s and Amazon. And in the US from bookshop.org, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.