February 08, 2011

Berkeley Author Weaves Tale of Ancient Turkey - the Oracle of Stamboul

It wasn’t until Berkeley native Michael David Lukas wandered into an antique store in Istanbul that the idea for his novel crystallized.

One day in the fall of 2004, Lukas was wandering through the narrow, crooked streets of Istanbul’s Cukurcuma district when he entered an antiques store. There, in the back, he stumbled upon a photograph of a girl, around 7 or 8, standing on a chair and leaning against a pillar. Lukas was struck by the look on her face; the girl had a wise, self-assured expression, something rarely seen on such a young child.

“I was flopping around (with my novel),” said Lukas. “I didn’t have that much direction. That moment, seeing that picture, crystallized it for me. I understood (the novel’s) setting, the time, and the arc of the story.”

Seven years later, Lukas’ novel, The Oracle of Stamboul, is about to be published. It centers around young Eleanora Cohen, born in 1877, who becomes an adviser to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The San Francisco Chronicle called it “a Turkish delight” and Good Housekeeping said it is “a magical debut.”

Read more on BerkeleySide: Berkeley Author Weaves Tale of Ancient Turkey


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