The Word Not Spoken
A backpacker falls face-flat in love while on holiday in Turkey. Leigh doesn’t learn that Ahmet is a Kurdish freedom fighter until after their 3-day Islamic wedding. In funny and poignant scenes, Leigh learns to deal with neighbours pounding at the door, chickens in the basement, a new friend who needs help to escape and the growing threat of torture and separation from the man she loves. More
A romantic adventure set in Turkey poses questions about human rights, risk and the requirements for love.
Professionally edited and reviewed.
A Canadian backpacker falls face-flat in love with a charismatic carpet salesman while on holiday in Cappadocia, Turkey. Leigh doesn’t learn of Ahmet’s work as a freedom fighter until after their three-day Islamic wedding, but she copes with violence as readily as she learns to live without an oven or hot water. Ahmet's missions mean that he is often absent, highlighting Leigh's comical and poignant struggles to learn the rules in her new life: never throw away old bread, don’t smoke during Ramazan, open the door no matter who knocks, save nothing for tomorrow.
From the beginning, Leigh and Ahmet tell each other stories: he romanticizes revolution and she loves a fairy tale. After they meet a group of Kurdish refugees, they decide to formally write a book. Together, with the reader as witness, Leigh and Ahmet use the place between truth and lies to create a suspenseful and compelling story. Ahmet details the workings of a guerrilla camp, Istanbul’s underground and a torture centre, while Leigh records her experiences with Turkish baths and toilets, cooking from scratch, family formalities and holidays.
While their joint-narrative blossoms, reality is not as kind, and they soon face some difficult decisions.
The Word Not Spoken begins as a smart, lively introduction to Turkish custom, geography and human rights issues as threaded through a tender, carefully wrought love story. But that’s only the beginning. As the plot thickens, the story evolves into a sophisticated and satisfying double-layered narrative. This is one impressive book, made stunning by the fact that it is a debut novel. The people, places and conundrums of Turkey will lodge under your skin forever.
- Jean Lenihan, Los Angeles Times arts writer
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