‘The Silence of Scheherazade’ by Defne Suman is a fantastic novel

‘The Silence is Scheherazade’ is literary fiction at its best. The book may appeal to the readers of Elif Shafak, especially to those who like mysticism in Shafak’s novels. However, of course, Suman’s book wasn’t written in English. Furthermore, Suman’s novel is written in a different style. The book could be classified as magic realism. It paints a realistic view of the world while adapting magical elements such as frog rain or the precocious nature of Scheherazade, who remembers things from when she was a baby. The multitude of characters is sometimes difficult to follow. Still, it is consistent in the genre and in many ways, it resembles ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ by Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. 

The book presents an interesting take of the chapter in history that is not known outside this region. The Turkish independence is presented both from Armenian, Turkish and Greek perspectives. I particularly like the use of Avinash as an Indian spy for the British Empire. The fact that he was educated in Oxford and taught how to infiltrate the Muslim world is fascinating. 

Scheherazade’s backstory is also portrayed in an interesting manner. She was born to an opium-dazed mother in the ancient city of Smyrna, and she remains silent. She develops an interest in Gypsy’s tales. This mysticism is one of the most interesting things in the book but could be expanded much more.

Edith is an equally interesting character. Having inherited a fortune in the early 20 century, she becomes an independent woman, which is rather rare. Her relationships with other people and especially with men are skillfully drawn. However, the characterisation of further characters becomes repetitive. All women are attractive and have a number of suitors. They are also very independent.

Each chapter is given a title, but these titles do not necessarily add suspense to the novel (for example, ‘The Notebook’ by Nicolas Sparks).

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