Elif Shafak takes the reader on an amazing journey. We travel from a British prison to the top of an Abu Dhabi skyscraper. We are whisked from a Kurdish village in eastern Turkey to a London squat in Hackney.
Some of the fictional territory explored is that of identity. "Who am I?" is an urgent question shared today by increasing numbers of migrants as they struggle to find their place in distant countries with vastly diverse history, geography and culture.
The book is full of oppositions -- Turkish vs Kurdish, rural versus urban, foreign versus local, men's roles versus women's roles, and of course, as the title suggests, honour versus shame.
Elif Shafak is a brilliant novelist who imagines her writer self as a compass. While one part of her is anchored in Turkey, the rest of her is free to roam the world.
To achieve this, she "commutes" between Turkish and English, writing in both languages. Politics divides us, she says -- and how tragically apparent that is in Turkey at present. Fortunately, literature unifies us, revealing how much we have in common.
To thrive, Shafak believes we humans must not be walled about by people just like us. Instead, we need to come face to face with difference. Thus we may allow light to pass through the walls that divide us. Entering the magic spaces of story, we begin to appreciate how others see the world.