2  August 2012


Ozay Mehmet


When Empires collapse, families and individuals suffer…fortunes are lost and made… some win, others lose. Identities change; history of war and conflict hides many personal tragedies.


UZUN ALI, SHAME AND SALVATION is a family story, set Cyprus, from 1870s to 1980, told in three generations.  Uzun Ali was the all-powerful Kaimakam (provincial governor) of Milltown in the Ottoman period. In 1878 he suddenly lost his status and authority when the British took over the island. His family survived and ultimately became a successful global family thanks to his unwavering confidence in the power of education in the modern world.


The novel is 433 pages long and is organized in four Parts.


The first Part, DISGRACE, is a story of abduction and female exploitation in the oppressive Ottoman culture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This is a period of transition, when the British replace the Ottoman rule in Cyprus, promising law and order. But the British fail: a legal limbo prevails on the island, polygamy is widespread and the divided ethnic communities are hostile to one another. The dashing zaptieh (policeman), Halil Ibrahim, takes advantage of opportunities that come his way, living a life of a shameless hedonist in the dying days of the Ottomans, driving his pregnant wife beyond the limit of endurance to murder. Daughter Aygul is born to a life of torment, hating his biological father as the real murderer of his beloved mother.


The second Part, ROSES AND TEARS, is a multinational story of murder in an Ottoman Kervansaray in Nicosia in 1923: This mysterious murder is the sad end of a love story between an Irish girl, Mary Edward, a typist in war-time London, and Uzun Ali’s first-born son, Munir, in London to become a lawyer. Munir, heir to Uzun Ali, is totally devastated by this unfortunate murder, and is spiritually transformed from being a selfish brute into a forgiving and repenting soul dedicated to ethical living. Munir’s redemption parallels a similar transformation in his younger half-brother’s wife, Aygul, the rejected daughter of Halil Ibrahim. Munir and Aygul become soul-mates and together their redemption ensures the eventual successful re-emergence of the Uzun Ali clan.



Part III, DISCOVERY, is the story of third generation of Uzun Ali clan, spread over the globe, in England, Canada, Turkey and elsewhere. Thanks to the redemption of Munir, and his educational trust for the grandchildren of the Kaimakam of Milltown, Uzun Ali’s grandchildren are modern children, highly educated, professional and able to compete and succeed in the globalizing world. Their success represents the power of redemption, ability to forgive and get on with new challenges, staying open-minded and ready to meet and overcome adversity. Their achievement, in so many different environments, is testimony to the fact that staying isolated, resisting change and progress, is the recipe for stagnation and decline.


The final Part, HYPOCRITES AND ANGELS, is a family story of the Cyprus conflict and the failure of international, especially UN, mediation. Even angels in heaven are unable to resolve the Cyprus issue. The Uzun Ali family suffered greatly from the bitter EOKA violence and the Greek-Turkish war in Cyprus in 1974. Throughout it all, the young generation of the Uzun Ali clan remained emotionally attached to Cyprus, meeting there and recalling the glories of a vanished world, amidst the natural beauty of the Island of Love.   


The narrator is Sevgi, a granddaughter of Uzun Ali, a social historian who has the good fortune of discovering the family secrets hidden in the attic of the old Konak, where the Ottoman Kaimakam, once ruled like a benevolent despot.