Sunday, May 3, 2009

Review: Voice of Conscience A Thought-Provoking Novel

Voice of Conscience
By Behcet Kaya
Outskirts Press, Inc.
ISBN: 1439203903
345 Pages


When cultural imperatives and internal moral feelings collide, such as those in The Voice of Conscience by Behcet Kaya, the turmoil produces a disturbing, yet wonderfully open and thought-provoking novel!

The Voice of Conscience begins in Atamkoy, northeastern Turkey, in the early ‘60’s. Ramzi Ozcomert, Jr., was just 14. His role in the first part is minor, for his father and mother are preparing for the marriage of their daughter, Erin. Known for her beauty, Erin had been fought over by many of the village men, although her heart had already been won and she was tentatively committed for marriage. I say tentatively because there are certain customs that must be followed. There had been no hurry until one night . . .

Elder Korucu and five men from his family came to call; they sought Erin’s hand for Orhan, the Elder’s grandson. Interestingly, the Korucu and Ozcomert families were not on good terms. Indeed Ramzi Jr.’s role that night was to stand out-of-sight, with the shotgun, in case there was trouble! The scene in which Erin’s hand is sought is one of the highlights of the novel and effectively sets the framework against which the book proceeds.

For, because of this marriage proposal, Ramzi Sr. sees that they must move more quickly if they are to grant Erin’s desire to marry for love! And so the process and arrangements for the wedding begin. Here, too, is one of the highlights of the novel: the description of the wedding preparations, including the convoy of the groom’s family as they travel to the wedding site.

But it all ended in tragedy¾for Ramzi Sr. and his wife, as well as Erin were murdered! Ramzi Jr., escaped from the house with the help of relatives and was sent far away where he would have to make a new life, accompanied only by the nightmares of his family’s bodies, lying bloody, dead, on the eve of the ceremony! There had been so much planning, hoping to avoid any trouble, hoping that the marriage would take place. Now the only thing left was Ramzi’s pain and his need¾for vengeance!

As Ramzi grew older, he graduated and met his soulmate, Megan, for whom he had great love. As his family began, so, too, did Ramzi’s successful ventures in business, and he was soon a wealthy owner of an engineering design company and father of two young girls. Devoting his life to family and his business won over even Megan’s father, who had been against the marriage initially; and he soon was proud of his son-in-law’s accomplishments.

The story could well have ended, telling a beautiful and exciting love story; however, Kaya then takes his readers back—to the time when Ramzi lost his family!

When Ramzi looks at his success, he begins only to remember what he has also lost! And his deep, instinctual teachings of vengeance began to consume him, until he could no longer indulge in his own and his family’s happiness. He attempted to discuss his ethical and spiritual concerns while visiting a monastery, but, for him, it was too little, too late.

What finally happens is an unpredictable, dramatic explosion that takes readers completely by surprise. And yet, by its very ending, it changed the novel into a literary statement that must be absorbed and pondered for its relevance! There is much to learn from Kaya as he shares how continuing cultural practices and instilling them so deeply into our children that they become all consuming, can be and often is potentially harmful to the very children we have brought to life and love!

Kaya has presented us with a must-read first novel, a tale discussing cultural imperatives that must be explored by all of us as we face today’s world. This is a memorable read! At this time, the book is being reprinted, so make sure you wait to get an error-free copy! Click on the title of this article to go to web site for Behcet Kaya!

G. A. Bixler
For IP Book Reviews