Ray Gun Reviews
SF/F reviews — and ray guns!

The Dervish House by Ian McDonald


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The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
Pyr, 2010, 358pp

Istanbul, 2027. A good-for-nothing sent to a relative to recover from a drug addiction and who witnesses a suicide bombing on his tram. A boy whose heart will fail if he hears a sudden noise and who experiences the world through his toy robots. A retired professor of economics, member of the dwindling Greek community of Istanbul. An up-and-coming commodities trader about to make the deal of his life. His wife, the owner of an antiquities gallery specializing in religious works. A young woman trying to escape the long shadow of her large family and make her own way in the big city. And the building in which they all live in a run-down corner of Istanbul.

The Devish House is the most recent novel by Ian McDonald, author of such contemporary SF masterworks as Desolation Road and River of Gods. It traces the lives of six people over the course of five days. Some of these characters knew each other before these days begin, others not. They all have their own dreams and desires. Yet as the course of the five days unfold, their lives become intertwined in unexpected ways. Their lives spin together like the whirling dance of the Sufi mystic.

The story of the book is hard to describe in any more detail without getting into spoiler territory. McDonald paints characters extremely well, characters that are rich and complex, characters that are real. He puts these characters in extreme situations that test their limits. The story combines intrigue and mystery, love lost and love found, fanaticism both religious and scientific. In the hands of a less-skilled author, the multiple story lines could easily spin out of control. But McDonald is always in control. His prose is at times complex, but it is always at the service of the story he tells.

The Dervish House is another masterpiece by one of the greats of our age.

(Reviewed by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt)

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2 Responses to “The Dervish House by Ian McDonald”

  1. […] published in the US and enjoyed it — anything by Powers is worth reading. Donald reviewed Dervish House. And I’ve got Zoo City on my iPod Touch to read soon. It may just have moved a bit further up […]

  2. […] Fiction Association has announced its 2010 award winners. For best novel is Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House. Congratulations, Mr McDonald! LikeBe the first to like this […]


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