Bliss : 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. 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.
|History & Geography||Middle East|