Louis de Bernieres - Birds without Wings
Set against the background of the collapsing Ottoman Gallipoli campaign, and the subsequent bitter struggle between Greeks and Turks, Birds Without Wings traces the fortunes of one small community in south-west Anatolia - a community in which Christian and Muslim lives and traditions have co-existed peacefully over the centuries and in which friendship, even love, can transcend religious
Amongst the inhabitants of this picturesque coastal town are Iskander the Potter, fount of proverbial wisdom; Philothei, a Christian girl of legendary beauty who is courted almost from infancy by Ibrahim the Goatherd, their jltetlove culminating in tragedy and madness; Karatavuk and Mehmetcik, childhood friends who play in the hills above the town; the two holy men of different faiths, Father Kristoforos and Abdulhamid Hodja; and the landlord Rustem Bey, who journeys to Istanbul in search of a Circassian mistress. And beyond the confines of the town there is Mustafa Kemal, the man of destiny, who by virtue of military genius and sheer bloody-mindedness reshapes the whole region in his image.
When war is declared against the Allies the young men are sent to fight. As the great world intrudes, the twin scourges of religion and nationalism lead to forced marches and massacres, hunger grips the town, and the peaceful fabric of life is destroyed.
Epic and profoundly humane, Birds Without | Wings is a glorious novel by one of our finest and best-loved novelists.