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 Yashim Togalu

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Faj
Âme Sentimentale qui se lie à l'Anatolie
Âme Sentimentale qui se lie à l'Anatolie
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Masculin Nombre de messages : 5412
Age : 43
Localisation : Brüksel, Canterville
Date d'inscription : 27/04/2005

MessageSujet: Yashim Togalu   Mar 12 Sep - 17:46

Un détective eunuque chez les Ottomans ...
J'ai feuilleté le livre chez Waterstone, c'est très bien écrit !

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The janissary tree

Jason Goodwin's books show an almost intimidating cleverness. A former Spectator/Sunday Telegraph Young Writer of the Year, he wrote encyclopaedic studies of the Ottoman Empire (Lords Of The Horizon), the dollar, (Greenback), and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for On Foot to the Golden Horn.
But in his non-fiction Goodwin, an an engaging enthusiast, never bludgeons the reader with his learning; he shares it excitedly. And now he does so in fiction.
The Janissary Tree puts us in Istanbul, 1836. Steaming tanneries stink of the dog faeces used to tan hides; cramped markets are fat with an Empire's produce; dervishes whirl for coins; the Imperial Archive bulges with 400 years of bureaucratic reports.

The hero has access to every cranny and alley of Istanbul life. He is Yashim, a retired Court eunuch, reserved and dapper in his cashmere cloak, an investigator for the Empire's elite; in effect, a detective. Past adventures in the Crimea are hinted at and now there's trouble at the palace.
A young officer of the westernised New Guard is found stuffed in a cooking pot in the Royal stables, his face sliced off. Three more officers are missing. In a side-plot, a young harem godze (a glossary would have been handy) is strangled on her way to the bed of Sultan Mahmut II, and jewels presented by Napoleon to the Sultan's mother, the Validé Sultan, are stolen.

Things being slower in 1836, our detective has 10 days, not 48 hours, to find the guilty. The proclamation of a liberal Edict from the Sultan and a grand public review of the New Guard are due, and the Court doesn't want unsolved murders raining on its parade. For Yashim, the clues suggest the Janissaries. Once the Sultan's elite troops, they grew violently corrupt and more interested in making than protecting Sultans. Ten years before the action they were massacred by the New Guard, but thousands escaped. Their bizarre rallying drumbeat had been wooden spoons on cooking pots and after the potted officer's death, new corpses turn up with wooden spoons attached at the base of old Janissary watchtowers.

As Yashim searches high (the harem, embassies, mosques) and low (dodgy bars, back alleys, the tanneries) he is helped by Preen, a shrewd, sad köçek (transvestite dancer) and the Polish Ambassador Palieski, the vodka-downing representative of a land long since swallowed by its neighbours.
The hero stifles the lust he still feels with a passion for literature, cooking and the world of the mind. It gives him a dignity, melancholy and separateness perfect in a detective. Goodwin has created a subtle character that deserves to endure.
So when Yashim is bedded by a raunchy Russian beauty, it breaks an elegantly created spell. (There were grades of castration apparently, and while we get no details, Yashim's privates can at least stand to attention.)
The only other false note is the anachronistic speech of Istanbul's toiling masses. Every "Whatever" or "lovely job" transports us to the Queen Vic. And from page one, we don't want to be there; we want to be in Istanbul with Yashim, as time runs out, the plot strands twine together and hidden Janissaries sharpen their blades.


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The Janissary Tree

Summer reading should be fun and relaxing, and if possible adventurous. Add in a little history and an exotic local, and voila, a great summer read. The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin fits the bill perfectly. Set in the fascinating world of early nineteenth century Istanbul, home of the sultan and capital of the Ottoman Empire, The Janissary Tree is classic detective story at heart.

Yashim Togalu is a eunuch in the service of the sultan, yet you will not find him fanning the sultan or guarding his harem. Instead, Yashim is an investigator whose talent for finding the truth is used in the service of the empire. When four cadets from the New Guard go missing, and one turns up dead, Yashim has ten days to uncover the plot that involves the once great and recently destroyed Janissaries Corps. A parallel investigation of a harem death and the theft of the sultan's mother's jewels keeps Yashim busy.

The Janissary Tree makes for a good read because it is populated by colorful characters you want to get to know. Whether it is the Ambassador of Poland, whose country no longer exists, the transvestite dancer, whose queenly proclivities go almost unnoticed, the sultan's mother, whose Haitian background and strength of character make her a match for her own son, or the green grocer who orders his customers about while providing them with exactly what they didn't know they wanted, Goodwin's characters are real and alive. Even in the dialogue of the characters, Goodwin draws a distinction of class that would have existed in such an ancient and venerable city. His use of cockney English for the lowest classes, to the American ear sounds odd, but his point it well taken.

Not only does Goodwin tell a great story filled with quirky characters, he places it all in such an unfamiliar locale granting him the ability to open up a whole new world to his readers. His familiarity with Constantinople (which he tells us is still its proper name) and its history make for a delightful entertainment. You can smell the spices, see the colors, and hear the cacophony that is Istanbul.

For anyone who loves a good detective story, and more so for anyone who loves one set historically (fans of Sharon Kay Penman and Laura Joh Rowland both) add this to your summer list.
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Faj
Âme Sentimentale qui se lie à l'Anatolie
Âme Sentimentale qui se lie à l'Anatolie
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Masculin Nombre de messages : 5412
Age : 43
Localisation : Brüksel, Canterville
Date d'inscription : 27/04/2005

MessageSujet: Re: Yashim Togalu   Mar 12 Sep - 17:47

On Foot to the Golden Horn: A Walk to Istanbul

Le même auteur a écrit ce livre sur Istanbul. Cool
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