Elif Shafak asks: How could a man murder his own mother?

honour-by-elif-shafakHonor by Elif Shafak

“So it was that in the land where Pink Destiny and Enough Beauty were born, ‘honor’ was more than a word. It was also a name. You could call your child ‘honor,’ as long as it was a boy. Men had honor. Old men, middle-aged men, even schoolboys so young that they still smelled of their mothers’ milk. Women did not have honor. Instead, they had shame. And, as everyone knew, Shame would be a rather poor name to bear.”

Elif Shafak’s story of an honor killing is an unflinching look at the intricacies of gender in traditional and modern societies. Who is in control, and when. What it means to fall in love, depending on who is falling.

Honor killings are a disease of “traditional” societies, and every few years an honor killing makes headlines around the world. It’s hard to know how to approach them, how to be critical of a practice but not critical of a culture.

As a Turkish woman who has lived all over the world, Shafak is in a unique position to examine her culture. Sometimes the person who can never quite belong sees the most, and Shafak in this novel sees right into the heart of her characters’ souls.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of this novel is that the protagonist, when all is said and done, is the man who carried out the honor killing. His mind, his soul, and his ego are the emotional core of the novel.

  •             Shafak bravely asks in this novel a question that boggles the mind: how could a boy murder his own mother?

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