by Kathryn Gauci
I love historical novels that speak of other places and people, and The Carpet Weaver of USAK does that with flair and sensitivity. Once again Kathryn Gauci delivers a moving and thoroughly convincing story about Asia Minor, 1914 - 1923. This time she reveals to her readers the authentic lives of villagers in a small isolated hamlet in West Anatolia. The narrative’s central motif is the Fountain of the Sun and the Moon, gifted to the village by the owners of two cafes – a Greek and a Turk. The fountain is the lifeblood of their rural community and a potent symbol of two cultures living side by side – Christian and Muslim.
An assassination in the Balkans eventually brings war to the villagers’ very doors, and their way of life is brutally changed forever. In skilfully weaving the daily lives of her main characters, Gauci has chronicled the factual, devastating destiny of more than a million people.
From the beginning of this tale it is clear – as with The Embroiderer – the author has not only an intimate knowledge of carpet making, but a deep understanding and a genuine care for those who suffered in a way that is probably hard for many in the Western world to imagine. The Carpet Weaver of Usak is an unforgettable novel, its depth and richness firmly anchored in the historical events of time and place.