The book selection for Pasadena’s eighth One City, One Story community reading celebration was Alan Drew’s novel “Gardens of Water.” (Search our catalog for this item.)
The novel tells the story of two families – one Kurdish, one American and the sacrifice and love that bind them together.
In a small town outside Istanbul, Sinan Basioglu, a devout Muslim, and his wife, Nilüfer, are preparing for their nine-year-old son’s coming-of-age ceremony. Their headstrong fifteen-year-old daughter, İrem, resents the attention her brother, Ismail, receives from their parents. For her, there was no such festive observance–only the wrapping of her head in a dark scarf and strict rules that keep her hidden away from boys and her friends. But even before the night of the celebration, İrem has started to change, to the dismay of her Kurdish father. What Sinan doesn’t know is that much of her transformation is due to her secret relationship with their neighbor, Dylan, the seventeen-year-old American son of expatriate teachers.
İrem sees Dylan as the gateway to a new life, one that will free her from the confines of conservative Islam. Yet the young man’s presence and Sinan’s growing awareness of their relationship affirms Sinan’s wish to move his family to the safety of his old village, a place where his children would be sheltered from the cosmopolitan temptations of Istanbul, and where, as the civil war in the south wanes, he hopes to raise his children in the Kurdish tradition.
But when a massive earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the Basioglu family is faced with greater challenges. Losing everything, they are forced to forage for themselves, living as refugees in their own country. And their survival becomes dependent on their American neighbors, to whom they are unnervingly indebted. As love develops between İrem and Dylan, Sinan makes a series of increasingly dangerous decisions that push him toward a betrayal that will change everyone’s lives forever.
The deep bonds among father, son, and daughter; the tension between honoring tradition and embracing personal freedom; the conflict between cultures and faiths; the regrets of age and the passions of youth–these are the timeless themes Alan Drew weaves into a brilliant fiction debut.
Drew was born and raised in Southern California. He has traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. He has lived on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in eastern Montana, where he worked with emotionally disturbed children. He taught English Literature for three years at a private Turkish high school in Istanbul, arriving just four days before the devastating 1999 Marmara earthquake. In 2004 he completed a Master of Fine Arts degree at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, where he was awarded a Teaching/Writing Fellowship. He currently lives with his wife and children in Pennsylvania and teaches at Villanova University.
One City, One Story activities and events took place in March 2010. A community dialogue with the author was held on Sunday, March 14 at the Pasadena Convention Center. Those of you who missed it can watch the video.
“This year’s One City, One Story selection focuses on family, culture, faith and tradition and is particularly relevant in today’s world, “ said Mayor Bill Bogaard. “It is certain to spark conversation and dialogue among the community.”
One City, One Story is designed to broaden and deepen an appreciation of reading and literature in the community, engage participants in dialogue and bring Pasadenans together by promoting greater understanding of differing points of view.