ACOM Book Club News for March

Architects Apprentice Cover smThe ACOM Book Club held its March 2017 meeting on the 16th at St. Sahag Armenian Church. Attendees this month were Andrea, Tom, Azad, Al, Peter, Tashina and me, plus a guest, Alberta, who is in another book club with Andrea. That book club also recently discussed "The Architect's Apprentice". We shared a bottle of cabernet, peanuts, chocolate, and a banana cream pie imported from southern Minnesota.
This month's book was "The Arthitect's Apprentice" by Elif Shafak.


As we started, Andrea talked a little bit about her recent trip to Antarctica and Tom talked about his trip to Vietnam.
Azad and his wife, Caren, both loved the book. They differed in that Caren thought that the author was very good at sticking to the point, while Azad thought that she was too wordy. Azad liked the mention in the book about how the architect felt that it was important to spend time paying attention to details that very few people would ever notice. He also like the discussion in the book about losing and recovering ones faith multiple times.
Andrea pointed out that Sinan is a historical character. After he died, maybe a few years later, several generations of Armenians (Balians) were the official architects of the Ottoman Empire.
There was a short discussion of how, at least early on, the Ottoman Empire was very tolerant of its racial and religious minorities. Armenians preferred their treatment by the Ottomans to the way that they had been treated by the Greeks.
Peter and others commented on how the trip to Rome in the book was fascinating, that such a trip seemed to be "normal". They also commented on how the pin and the prism were used to check out the architectural properties of buildings.
The ways in which identities were used in the book was discussed, such as how Jahan claimed to be Indian, but apparently wasn't, and how another apprentice was a woman who disguised herself as a man so that she could work as an architect.
There was a short discussion on how the successive sultans were selected.
Azad brought up Olev's comments on Jahan growing up and becoming jaded (my word). Tom commented on how complex Jahan's life was. Alberta noticed that Jahan's "voice" didn't change throughout the book. His views on things seemed the same at the end of the book as they did at the beginning.
Someone pointed out how the Muslim architectural style was to create space by making rooms larger by using columns as supports rather than walls.
Peter thought that it may have been interesting to consider what the book would have been like if Sinan would have been the central character instead of Jahan.
Azad pointed out that, while during the period of time covered by the book the center of the Muslim world was Constantinople, in earlier days it was Baghdad. There were major architectural efforts in Baghdad which, in many cases, didn't survive because of the construction materials available there. Also, there is a visible difference between the architectural style in Baghdad as opposed to Constantinople, which was much more influenced by the west.
Peter asked Alberta to compare the ways in which the two book clubs discussed the same book. Alberta thought that a major difference was that her other book club focused on themes within the book while ours branched out into other things like the history surrounding the story.
That discussion filled a full two hours and I think that we wouldn't have had any problem continuing to talk for another two hours, but all good things must end eventually. Everyone did agree, though, that it seemed a major waste of time to put so much effort into such a piddly subject as architecture! (Take that, Francis, for missing the meeting! :-)
Next month's book is "Bedros" by Irene Vosbikian. For the month of May, the current intent is to spend the meeting telling Armenian jokes (and proverbs?). We'll decide by next month's meeting if there is any suggested reading material to prepare for that.
Until next month,

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