Reviewed by: Pete Barber
Genre: Literary Fiction/Magical Realism
Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words
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Award winning author of multi-cultural and transgressive literature, Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway. Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry for several international law firms. She now lives with her husband, two daughters and one very large, very terrible dog. She keeps busy working with fabulous authors as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity and penning her next genre bending novel. In addition to this novel, Ms. Parvarti has published a four part series—Two Moons of Sera.
Connect with Pavarti at her website.
After his mother committed suicide and his father disappeared, eight-year-old Recai became heir to the multi-billion dollar Osman Corporation. Recai’s father had used the business’s profits to develop his home town of Elih, Turkey, in a secular fashion, granting interest free loans to support education and local business. In the absence of this easy money, the town is taken over by the RTK, a regressive and corrupt political group who imposed Sharia Law on the population. The tale follows Recai in his early twenties as he tries to find his place in the world.
The story opens with Recai having been dumped and left to die in the desert after a night of illicit drinking in Elih. He meets with two main characters when they save his life and within a few pages, we’re treated to the first experience of the brutality and anti-woman bias of the RTK’s officers.
This novel, it seems to me, is a vehicle through which the author wishes to expose the hypocrisy of those using Sharia Law to further their own means. At its core is the attitude of these so-called Muslims toward women. The officers of the RTK, or at least the ones the story focuses on, use rape to subjugate women. There is a lot of rape in this story. Once a young woman has been raped, the author shows how she is then shunned by those closest to her who consider her spoiled goods, bringing shame on the family. This was an unpleasant education for me. I’ve read of atrocities committed against Muslim woman, but the author brought this home in a visceral manner.
Sadly, for this reader, the story, and in particular the main character, didn’t ring true. Because the tale wasn’t strong enough to carry the message, I found it difficult to suspend disbelief. For example, this young man, Recai, inherits a multi-billion dollar enterprise, receives the finest education, and yet is clueless about what the business does. When four billion dollars are found to be missing, he asks the company accountant to see if he can find the money—seriously? Four billion dollars isn’t the kind of money you hide under the mattress, and why ask the accountant who’s been working at the company while this money disappeared and apparently had no idea it was missing?
Characters find each other with suspicious ease. A list of missing and or raped women’s names is given, but no action is taken. Recai is supposed to be searching for himself, but never finds a purpose, he just seems to wander and waffle. Toward the end of the story, an element of magical realism (Allah’s intervention) is introduced, but insufficiently explained.
The story felt like a rudderless ship to me. I believe it is to be the first in a series. Perhaps Recai will be better defined in subsequent stories, but I needed to understand him in this saga to make me want to move on to the next episode.
In summary: The writing was clean and tight with very few typos. The opening scene is well drawn. The underlying message about women’s rights and mistreatment in the Muslim world comes over loud and clear, but the vehicle (story) was too weak to get me engaged.
Too few to mention.
Rating: *** Three stars