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Extended Audio Sample Gardens of Water: A Novel Audiobook, by Alan Drew Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,016 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Alan Drew Narrator: Mark Bramhall Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2008 ISBN: 9780739358825
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Powerful, emotional, and beautifully written, Alan Drew’s stunning first novel brings to life two unforgettable families—one Kurdish, one American—and the sacrifice and love that bind them together.

In a small town outside Istanbul, Sinan Basioglu, a devout Muslim, and his wife, Nilüfer, are preparing for their nine-year-old son’s coming-of-age ceremony. Their headstrong fifteen-year-old daughter, Irem, resents the attention her brother, Ismail, receives from their parents. For her, there was no such festive observance—only the wrapping of her head in a dark scarf and strict rules that keep her hidden away from boys and her friends. But even before the night of the celebration, Irem has started to change, to the dismay of her Kurdish father. What Sinan doesn’t know is that much of her transformation is due to her secret relationship with their neighbor, Dylan, the seventeen-year-old American son of expatriate teachers.

Irem sees Dylan as the gateway to a new life, one that will free her from the confines of conservative Islam. Yet the young man’s presence and Sinan’s growing awareness of their relationship affirms Sinan’s wish to move his family to the safety of his old village, a place where his children would be sheltered from the cosmopolitan temptations of Istanbul, and where, as the civil war in the south wanes, he hopes to raise his children in the Kurdish tradition.

But when a massive earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the Basioglu family is faced with greater challenges. Losing everything, they are forced to forage for themselves, living as refugees in their own country. And their survival becomes dependent on their American neighbors, to whom they are unnervingly indebted. As love develops between Irem and Dylan, Sinan makes a series of increasingly dangerous decisions that push him toward a betrayal that will change everyone’s lives forever.

The deep bonds among father, son, and daughter; the tension between honoring tradition and embracing personal freedom; the conflict between cultures and faiths; the regrets of age and the passions of youth—these are the timeless themes Alan Drew weaves into a brilliant fiction debut.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Fascinating . . . a remarkable first novel [of] people struggling to define themselves in a world that seems against them. USA Today
  • A real triumph . . . Alan Drew explores, with respect and understanding, clashes between cultures, faiths, and generations. In the end, we find ourselves feeling close to the characters and their world, as it is the very world in which we live. Yiyun Li, author of The Vagrants
  • Sensitive and thought-provoking, Gardens of Water is set in a perfectly realized Istanbul, a city where traditionalism and modernity grind together like the fragments of a collapsing building. The New York Times Book Review
  • A penetrating, tightly focused novel that balances the sweetness of youth and the brooding anxieties of parenthood with a robust understanding of the Muslim-Westerner encounter. Leila Aboulela, author of The Translator

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tara | 2/14/2014

    " Gardens of Water is a really interesting look at the dynamic between Kurdish Muslims and Westerners. It's set in Turkey during a devastating earthquake that displaces many poor Kurds into refugee camps run by American missionaries. The story is told from Sinan's point of view - a religious Muslim (though not a fundamentalist) who simultaneously relates to and needs one particular American's help while also hating him and his beliefs. It's an engrossing story and provides an insightful perspective on the delicate and volatile relationship between Westerners and the Middle East. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sara | 2/4/2014

    " This is a sad and heart-wrenching book that powerfully explores the interface between traditional and modern societies, family loyalty, religious conviction, and cultural upheaval. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Noreen | 1/29/2014

    " I liked this book, but not nearly as much as some of the other readers at the Merc, who thought it was oe of the best things they'd read all year. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda Lewis | 1/27/2014

    " (audio book) Wow, this was fascinating. Turkey in the not too distant past, a family caught between old ways and new ways. Really powerful! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pmcpmd | 1/14/2014

    " Such a believable and enthralling story that in the end will be hard to forget. Very thought provoking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 1/2/2014

    " I chose this "Staff Pick" from a Truckee bookstore. I thought I had enough reading material for our week's vacation, but ran out. I chose this book because it is set in Turkey, and we're planning a trip there this year. Fascinating read, with large doses taken from the author's years in Turkey. Insights into the differences between fundamental and conservative Islam, and the cultural clashes between Turkey and America. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robin | 12/30/2013

    " Well, I first entered this title in March and finally got around to finishing it while I was on vacation in Georgia. It was tough to get through for me because I don't know anything about Turkey and the situation with the Kurds. So I learned something but ultimately it was not enlightening enough to offset the sadness the story evoked. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wendy | 12/27/2013

    " I learned a lot about Turkey and enjoyed the storytelling of Alan Drew. I especially enjoyed the second half of the book. The perspective of the Kurds was an interesting one and something I wanted to learn more about so I appreciated that aspect of the novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aimee | 11/16/2013

    " This was a really great heart wrenching book. I was a little disappointed by the ending, but not really. I guess for all the horrible things that happened in the book it had a good hopeful ending, but I wanted more reconciliation. It was great though -- a really good book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 11/16/2013

    " LOVED IT! Could not put it down! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessy Wallace | 10/21/2013

    " Really enjoyed this book! Seeing that world through the eyes of a father and through his daughter was so heart-wrenching, a truly unique experience. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Allison Thompson | 4/15/2013

    " Good story about a Kurdish family after the 1999 earthquake near Istanbul. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annie Morford | 1/2/2013

    " Okay, I loved this book. It truly kept me hooked until the last page. This story gives an amazing insight into Turkish culture, and a real look at what it was like for families coping with the earthquake. Well written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Niels Bjerg | 2/28/2012

    " Meh, not all I had hoped for. This might possibly be a desperate attempt at re-creating some of the feeling you'd get from books like A thousand splendid suns. Ok for pass time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Zoella | 8/30/2011

    " Insightful read, very well written in some respects: describing the earth quake, capturing the day-to-day struggles. Was a bit disappointed with some of the characterisation, especially the two young lovers, some parts were not at all convincing. Saying that, I would recommend it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 8/20/2011

    " A nice, quick read. A thoughtful story about the problems that can arise when aid-workers see disaster as an opportunity to proselytize. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cheryl Vanatti | 7/19/2011

    " Review published on Many A Quaint & Curious Volume "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 6/4/2011

    " Enjoyed reading from different perspectives. Definitely brings up some interesting discussions on cultures and religion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lee | 5/22/2011

    " Middle Eastern tale of Muslim Kurds and their lives after a quake. Sad tale, reminiscent of Kiterunner in my mind... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melanie | 4/19/2011

    " it was the Pasadena One City One Storychoice, but I didn't think it was that great. It's about a Turkish and an American family after the 1999 earthquake and the desparate choices they make. Unlikable characters "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katri | 3/10/2011

    Vaikka kirja olikin hyvä ja sen luki yhdessä päivässä (sitten kun vain oikeasti aloitti lukemaan), niin mua jäi harmittamaan ihan suunnattomasti kirjan loppu ja kieli. Kirja oli vähän kuin Twilight, hyvä idea ja tarina, mutta vähän kehno toteutus ja surkea loppu. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 3/8/2011

    " I felt a though I were in a Muslim's eyes and heart in this book. I learned so much about their faith and their means of thinking. That, along with Kurdistan ad the war throughout Turkey. A simply wonderful book that is beautifully written. Highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Natasha | 2/8/2011

    " intricate description of the earthquake and its after effects...well written "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elaine | 1/2/2011

    " I thought this was a very well written book. The contrast of the American and Turkish families were very thoughtfully explored. This book touched me in the parenting drama that unfolds. Very good book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda Hali | 12/31/2010

    " what an amazing story. timely, tragic, redeeming - insight to eastern cultures on politics on a personal rather than governmental level. just beautiful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen | 11/17/2010

    " i enjoyed the setting of this story - 1999 in Turkey. This is an interesting intercultural story that brings together both American cultural standards and Turkish in major conflict. This is a sad one, finally, but quite a revealing glimpse of a life about which I know little. "

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About the Author

Alan Drew was born and raised in southern California and has traveled throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. He taught English literature for three years at a private high school in Istanbul, arriving just four days before the devastating 1999 Marmara earthquake. In 2004 he completed a master of fine arts degree at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was awarded a Teaching/Writing Fellowship. He lives with his wife and son in Cincinnati.

About the Narrator

Mark Bramhall has won thirty-four AudioFile Earphones Awards and has twice been a finalist for the Audiobook Publishers Association’s prestigious Audie Award for best narration. He has been named by Publishers Weekly and AudioFile magazine among their “Best Voices of the Year” in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. He is also an award-winning actor whose acting credits include off-Broadway, regional, and many Los Angeles venues as well as television, animation, and feature films. He has taught and directed at the American Academy of Dramatic Art.