The Flea Palace
book | Fiction | 2010
Turkish Title: Bit Palas
Shortlisted for the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction
Waterstone’s 2005 Summer Reading promotion
Keen irony and humour amongst the cats and tomb thieves of Istanbul.
The setting is a stately residence in Istanbul built by Russian noble émigré Pavel Antipov for his wife Agripina at the end of the Tsarist reign, now sadly dilapidated, flea-infested, and home to ten families. Shafak uses the narrative structure of A Thousand and One Nights to construct a story-within-a-story narrative.
Inhabitants include Ethel, a lapsed Jew in search of true love and the sad and beautiful Blue Mistress whose personal secret provides the novel with an unforgettable denouement. Add to this a strange, intensifying stench whose cause is revealed at the end of the book, and we have a metaphor for the cultural and spiritual decay in the heart of Istanbul.
The audio rights are handled by Alice Lutyens.
Daisy Meyrick manages the translation rights for The Flea Palace
Translation Rights Sold
The Bookseller Full Review
Waterstone's Full Review
Shafak can switch from a picareque tale of a father and son's broken noses to astute observations of how strangely despair and love manifest themselves without pausing.