Short Book Review: Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin
SBR: Last Train to Istanbul has an interesting premise and story. It is a second world war story that is not from America, but from Turkey, a country that maintained a precarious neutrality through most of the war, dealing with the political and military pressure from the allies as well as the axis powers, and in the process creating scope for the events that the story is primarily about – their diplomats saving Turkish as well as many non-Turkish Jews from the clutches of German-occupied Europe.
It is a story of politics, calamitous changes, war, and love. That sounds like a thrilling back cover text, but unfortunately, the book is not well-written. Part of it could be the fault of the translation, but part of it is definitely original. The dialogs are stilted, language cliched and the story jumps back and forth, rather than flow. Characters could have been more vibrant that ‘he loves her’, ‘she is rebellious’, ‘he is stubborn’, ‘he is a gentleman’. You don’t feel the time, the people and the situations. You have to take things on face value with the over exposition by the author.
To read or not to read: Read only if you have read too many American world-war II stories and need change. Else, I hope to find something else from this region that is better written.