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Gardens of Water

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Gardens of Water

A Novel
by Alan Drew
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Powerful, emotional, and beautifully written, Alan Drew's stunning first novel brings to life two unforgettable families--one Kurdish, one American--and the sacrifice and love that bind them...
Powerful, emotional, and beautifully written, Alan Drew's stunning first novel brings to life two unforgettable families--one Kurdish, one American--and the sacrifice and love that bind them...
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  • Powerful, emotional, and beautifully written, Alan Drew's stunning first novel brings to life two unforgettable 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.

    From the Hardcover edition.

  • Chapter 1 In the rush of bodies to board the ferry leaving Istanbul for Gölcük, Sinan lost his son.
    Five minutes earlier ÿIsmail had been tugging Sinan in the opposite
    direction, back toward the city, deep into the labyrinth of arcades
    and electronics stores of the Sirkeci neighborhood. Sinan suspected it
    was for the exact purpose of missing the ferry home and delaying the
    pain of the circumcision ceremony that evening. The boy stomped
    across the bricks in his white circumcision costume, one hand squeezing
    Sinan's fingers and the other hoisting his tasseled staff in the air
    like a pasha leading a parade. Sinan let himself be pulled for a while,
    but the horn had already sounded, and, even though he, too, wanted
    to delay the ceremony, they couldn't miss that ferry.
    When they had reached Re¸sadiye Avenue, Sinan pulled ÿIsmail
    into the street just as the traffic broke, Sinan's shoulders rocking back
    and forth in an awkward dance on his bad foot. He finally pushed
    Ismail through the metal gate to the ferry dock just in time for them
    to join the throng of men and women leaving work for the day. They
    ran from the shade of the dock back out into the searing summer sun,
    Sinan leading Ismail this time through a sea of elbows, shoulders, and
    damp backs. They climbed the thin plank of wood used as a bridge
    from dock to boat, the green water beneath them churning with
    translucent jellyfish, and they entered the smoky cabin, where Ismail
    dropped his staff. He let go of Sinan's hand, and before Sinan could
    grab his son's arm, the boy disappeared, swallowed by the wave of
    Now Sinan shoved through the crowd to get to the boy, but his
    foot made it difficult. He pushed against the stomachs of men smoking
    cigarettes, turning sideways to make himself thinner. "Affedersiniz,"
    he said to each person he touched, in a voice barely concealing
    his rising panic. "Excuse me." But the more he struggled forward, the
    more he was shoved backward by the jostling mob, and soon he was
    forced all the way to the other side of the ferry, his back leaning
    against a rusty chain that kept him from tumbling into the Bosporus.
    "Allah, Allah," he said out loud. A man standing next to him
    glanced in his direction.
    "Too many men," the man said. He lit a cigarette, the smoke flying
    away from his face. "Too many men, not enough city."
    "My boy's lost," Sinan said.
    The man turned around. He was taller than Sinan and he was able
    to see over the heads of the crowd.
    "Where?" the man said.
    "At the entrance."
    The man stood on his toes and yelled across the cabin in a voice so
    powerful it silenced the crowd.
    "Erkek çocuk nerede?"
    That started a chorus of echoes. "Where's the boy?" strangers
    called, their voices rising above the sound of the engine straining to
    pull away from the dock. "Where's the boy? Where's the boy?" they
    yelled into the wind, as the ferry nosed its white hull out into the blue
    water. "ÿIsmail!" Sinan called, joining his voice to the chorus. The
    men yelled "ÿIsmail" too, and a pandemonium of concern radiated out
    through the cabin.
    Then thirty feet away, rising above the heads of hundreds of people,
    came his son. At first ÿIsmail seemed to be floating under his own
    power, a princely ghost taken flight in the sea-whipped wind, but as
    he drew nearer, Sinan saw the shoulders on which ÿIsmail rested. The
    man elbowed through the parting crowd, a cigarette burning in his
    mouth, his large, hairy hands wrapped around the boy's stomach.
    Ismail's white teeth gleamed against his skin and his...

About the Author-
  • Alan Drew was born and raised in Southern California and has traveled throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. He taught English literature for three years at a private 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 Writers' Workshop, where he was awarded a Teaching/Writing Fellowship. He lives with his wife and son in Cincinnati.

    From the Hardcover edition.

  • USA Today

    "Fascinating . . . a remarkable first novel [of] people struggling to define themselves in a world that seems against them."

  • Yiyun Li, author of The Vagrants "A real triumph . . . Alan Drew explores, with respect and understanding, clashes between cultures, faiths, and generations. In the end, we find ourselves feeling close to the characters and their world, as it is the very world in which we live."
  • The New York Times Book Review "Sensitive and thought-provoking, Gardens of Water is set in a perfectly realized Istanbul, a city where traditionalism and modernity grind together like the fragments of a collapsing building."
  • Leila Aboulela, author of The Translator "A penetrating, tightly focused novel that balances the sweetness of youth and the brooding anxieties of parenthood with a robust understanding of the Muslim-Westerner encounter."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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A Novel
Alan Drew
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