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Literary Friday: The Dervish House

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ian McDonald, author of The Dervish House, is a genius.  Let me preface this review by saying that I am not a science fiction reader;  but I absolutely loved this book.  I will defininitely read more of McDonald's books in 2011.

The setting of The Dervish House is Istanbul, Turkey, shortly after Turkey's acceptance into the European Union (seventeen years or so from now).  I wish there were an illustrated edition of the book because I kept taking breaks and googling various locations in the city. The story only spans five days, and I am amazed at how McDonald weaves seemingly unrelated story lines together into a cohesive whole by the end of the book.  One common element is an old dervish house in the district of Eskikoy where many of the main characters either work or live.

Some of the main characters include: a religious-art dealer with a soft spot for William Blake engravings; a young, violent man who survives a terrorist attack and now sees djinn; a retired Greek economics professor who has been hired by a government-run think-tank; and a young boy with a heart condition and a knack for computers and robots.  One of my favorite characters (although minor) is the book dealer who continually calls his university friend (the art dealer) different types of flowers: buttercup, rose, flower, rosebud, lilac, etc., but never the same flower twice!

Nano technology, a mellified man, scary "swarmbots," and the most insidious terrorist plot ever conceived kept me thoroughly entertained.   I even found myself rooting for the crooked commodities trader.  I did not like him at all in the beginning of the book, but by the book's end, I want him to get away with the money scot-free and live happily ever after with his wife "on the European side of Istanbul."

If you read just one science fiction book this next year, read The Dervish House.  You will not regret it!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. I have to say I'm not a Scifi type either, but that book does sound good. Don't you love google. I did the same thing when I read A Thousand Splendid Suns.


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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