RaveAsymptote JournalWhile too much modern \'historical fiction\' tends to rely on nostalgia and cheap fireworks, Altan reasserts popular history as one of the novel’s greatest subjects ... a breathless portrait of late-19th century Istanbul ... One of Altan’s gifts as a historical novelist is his ability to connect what goes on, say, in the marriage bed with what occurs on a world-scale. There are no grand gestures of \'Great Men\' at the expense of everyday experiences. Rather, the commonplace mirrors bigger events or triggers them directly ... Very little about this book is grandiose, a rarity for a work of historical fiction. This is an Istanbul full of disappointing sex, sketchy political murders and the kind of codified fear that comes with living day-after-day under a despotic regime. In Altan’s hands, though, it all has a certain dignity. He picks the garbage off the ground and sets it in the sphere of historical interest. Personally, that’s my favorite sort of history.