4 out of 5 stars
It is 900 years since the Ottoman Empire began and just over a century since it ended. You’d think that after 100 years there wouldn’t be much left to see of their legacy, but you’d be surprised. Travelling through the twelve modern countries that make up what used to be their territory, Alev Scott uncovers far more than she expects.
Scott, who is a half-British, half-Turkish journalist had begun her looking for clues for her story in Turkey, talking to the meld of populations that live there at the moment and whose ancestors had been drawn from the far reached of the empire to the capital. Then one day she was banned from returning to Turkey, just as she was beginning to consider it another home and an essential part of her identity. She ended up living on the Greek island of Lesbos, which is so close to Turkey.
But this journey is about the modern day as well as the past, as she travels from the streets of Jerusalem to the villages of Cyprus through Bosnia and Serbia and onto Lebanon and the other peoples who have been scattered amongst the region, some by choice and others forced to move from place to place for all manner of reasons. By, teasing out their stories, she realises that what she thought would be only fragments of the empire are still very much visible in the people.
It is also a personal journey of her own, discovering roots to her identity. Some of these take her back to her childhood memories and others remind her that she is not at the moment allowed freedom of travel in the region because of her view and desire to ask questions that the authorities don’t want to hear. Scott feels at home in these places and she gives a perspective of a part of the world that I haven’t yet been too. Scott has a really nice style of writing and I really enjoyed reading this book, however, it would have been good to find out more about the people their hopes for the future and where they hoped to be at some point in the future.