Book Review: The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

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Highly acclaimed and an award winner, I had no second thoughts about picking Elif Shafak’s The Architect’s Apprentice. It took me a while to read through it, so many pages and so much details, tale upon tale you stumble upon and sometimes the details are of little and no consequences, but in the end you put it down and sigh, for this unusual, oriental, mystic tale of old is a telling of the circle of life for Jahan, a little foreign elephant mahout who became the apprentice of Sinan, one of the most renowned Architect’s of his time.

Though at times I was frustrated with the lack of a definite or a thrilling plot and with the amount of details, I adored the personality of master Sinan, who to my delight he is an actual historical character though I wonder how similar the real Sinan is to the one living and breathing between the pages. Among my many favourite quotes of him are ‘Sometimes for the soul to thrive, the heart needs to be broken, son’ and another would be ‘If not put to use, iron rusts, woodwork crumbles, man errs’, Sinan Said. ‘Work we must.’ It cannot be more true, you realise that human nature is basically the same since the dawn of time, and for humans to get along and live in peace they must be busy with something to do, a common goal. It is work, dedication, and tangible progress what puts aside differences and lets peace prevails. Don’t you see? We ourselves live it everyday at work! We come together through our different languages, genders, nationalities, religions, and beliefs in order to get our work done at the end of the day.

Again, as you read on, you also see that human’s progress is often assaulted by ignorance and fear of the unknown. Incredously, it is always the voice of ignorance that is often the loudest and most powerful and sadly the most destructive. However, what really counts is that a human isn’t supposed to be non-destructable, which is not an easy fate by any mean, what really counts is Sinans’ most admirable trait in my opinion: His ability to adapt and rise again from the ruin, stronger and more determined than before being knocked down.

You will enjoy the ride, but you need to be a bit patient and ride it out. In the end you realise that life is life and that history keeps repeating itself regardless of the day and time and century and country.

P.S. The bagels in the picture? Baked from scratch by yours truly! Yes, they look a bit sad but they were good :)

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