The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak
brand new paperback
There were six of us: the master, the apprentices and the white elephant. We built everything together. Mosques, bridges, madrasas, ravanserais, alms houses, aqueducts. . . . I think about Istanbul every day. People must be walking now across the courtyards of the mosques not knowing, not seeing. They would rather assume that the buildings around them had been there since the time of Noah. They were not. We raised them: Muslims and Christians, craftsmen and galley slaves, humans and animals, day upon day. But Istanbul is a city of easy forgettings. Things are written in water over there, except the works of my master, which are written in stone. Beneath one stone, I buried a secret. Much time has gone by, but it must still be there, waiting to be discovered. I wonder if anyone will ever find it. If they do, will they understand? When Jahan travels to 16th-century Istanbul as a stowaway carrying the gift of a white elephant for the sultan, little does he know the journey on which he is about to embark. Whispers in the palace gardens and secret journeys through Istanbul lead Jahan to Mihrimah, the beautiful Princess. Still under her spell, he is promoted from simple Mahout to apprentice of the Grand Master Architect, Sinanwhen his fortunes take a mysterious change. Full of magic, colour and societal upheaval in the architectural renaissance of Turkey, this is the sweeping tale of plagues, wars, forbidden romance and the simple love between a boy and his elephant.