The Oracle of Stamboul

By Michael David Lukas
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780062012104, 320pp.)

Publication Date: August 1, 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover, Hardcover, Paperback, Paperback, Hardcover

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Summer 2012 Reading Group
“This majestic debut follows Eleanora Cohen, an eight-year-old prodigy who, through a strange turn of events, leaves her life in Constanta and becomes an adviser to the Sultan. Lukas deftly evokes the sights, smells, sounds, and textures of 19th century Stamboul. The reader sees the world through the eyes of a small, precocious child as she negotiates with the larger forces of history. This is a stunning and thoroughly engaging read that will reach beyond the typical genre of historical fiction.”
-- Rachel Marcus, Pegasus Downtown, Berkeley, CA
Selected by Indie Booksellers for the March 2011 Indie Next List
“A baby is born with the signs of a sea of horses, a conference of birds and the North Star in alignment with the moon. These signs fulfill an ancient prophecy that a young girl will put the world right again, on its axis. Eleanor Cohen, an eight-year-old child prodigy, learns of her fate just as the Sultan of Stamboul has requests her presence. He is so impressed by her that he asks for advice in matters of state. This is a tale of mystery and political intrigue set in the exotic locale of 1885 Istanbul, but it has definite significance for our own time and place.”
-- Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI


Description

Ushered into the world by a mysterious pair of Tartar midwives late in the summer of 1877 in the town of Constanta on the Black Sea, Eleonora Cohen proves herself an extraordinarily gifted child—a prodigy—at a very young age. When she is eight years old, she stows away aboard a ship, following her carpet merchant father, Yakob, to the teeming and colorful imperial capital of Stamboul where a new life awaits her.

In the narrow streets of this city at the crossroads of the world, intrigue and gossip are currency, and people are not always what they seem. But it is only when she charms the eccentric Sultan Abdulhamid II—beleaguered by friend and foe as his unwieldy realm crumbles—that Eleonora will change the course of an empire.




About the Author

MICHAEL DAVID LUKAS has been a Fulbright scholar in Turkey, a late-shift proofreader in Tel Aviv and a Rotary scholar in Tunisia. He is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Maryland, and his writing has been published in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Slate, National Geographic Traveler and the Georgia Review. Lukas lives in Oakland, California, less than a mile from where he was born. When he isn’t writing, he teaches creative writing to third- and fourth-graders. Visit him online at www.michaeldavidlukas.com.




Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. A prophecy foretold the birth of a girl like Eleonora Cohen. Do you believe in mystical propositions such as prophecies? Do you think the events surrounding her birth were truly foretold or just coincidence? Why do we in the West dismiss the idea of prophets and prophecies? Have we lost something in doing so?




Praise For The Oracle of Stamboul

“Beguiling. . . . Lukas veers from the tried-and-true, making The Oracle of Stamboul a novel that offers delightful surprises.”
-Jane Ciabattari, Los Angeles Times

“Lukas . . . brings a raconteur’s sense of storytelling, a traveler’s eye for color and a scholar’s sense of history to his first novel. . . . Lukas has given us a Turkish delight.”
-San Francisco Chronicle

“An enchanting, gorgeous read . . . Lukas captures the scents and sounds, the vivid beauty, the subtle intrigue and simultaneous naivety, of the Ottoman Empire unaware of its imminent demise.”
-Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men are Gone

“A stunning debut . . . Lukas has managed to create an instant classic that feels as if it should be retroactively slipped into the great libraries of the old world.”
-Reif Larsen, author of The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

“Michael David Lukas charms in his debut.”
-Vanity Fair

“A lyrical debut…A passionate novel that beautifully conveys the flavor of Turkish culture…focusing on the effect a young prodigy has on the political leaders of the time.”
-Kirkus Reviews

“This first novel by a promising young writer is both vivid historical fiction and a haunting fable.”
-Library Journal

“The exotic sights and sounds of nineteenth-century Turkey spring vividly to life in Lukas’ promising debut.”
-Booklist (starred review)

“A magical debut.”
-Good Housekeeping

The Oracle of Stamboul is a delight, a gem of a first novel.”
-Read All Day

“[An] impressive debut novel.”
-San Francisco magazine

“THE ORACLE OF STAMBOUL is one of those debuts that defies the norm.”
-Bookreporter.com

“...this riveting debut novel not only captures the atmosphere of the exotic European crossroads but also introduces a young girl who is utterly captivating.”
-Bookloons.com

“In his enchanting debut novel, Michael David Lukas captures the mystical world of the Ottoman Empire.”-
-Book Beast

“A gem of a first novel…an appealing blend of magical and historical realism…This is a polished literary work that will appeal to a wide readership.”
-Cleveland Plain Dealer

“A beautifully written debut novel. . . . Political intrigue, historical upheaval and Eastern mysticism come together in surprising ways as Lukas brings the book to a poignant conclusion tinged with magical realism.”
-Mercury News

“An enchanting literary debut…A charming tale of passion and intrigue…that could be read in one sitting, spine-tingling descriptions will transport readers to another place and time.”
-Today's Zaman

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