||Sep 4, 2009
Author Behcet Kaya, in his first novel Voice of Conscience, transports his readers to the land of his birth, bringing to life all of the sights, sounds and smells of a place steeped in centuries of tradition and exacting customs. Calling upon his own life experiences he weaves a story of love and revenge that plays itself out on three continents.
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Voice of Conscience begins in a small village in eastern Turkey, where Ramzi Ozcomert Jr. is catapulted into a fearsome adult world after the brutal death of his parents and sister. Shattered by grief and fear, Ramzi begins his flight from threats both real and imagined that take him from Istanbul to London, engendering in him a deep need for revenge. His plans are interrupted when he discovers love in the most unexpected of times, allowing himself to fall for an American and start over in California.
Despite his subsequent success in America, he cannot overcome the horrifying images of his murdered family members that plague his every moment. Ramzi’s obsession will take him to the very heart of his past as he travels back to Turkey, culminating in an ending that will confound all expectations. Voice of Conscience articulates a collision of opposites – of Turkish customs and Western values, loss and new life, love and hate – in a compulsively readable book essential for our times.
Ramzi turned within himself, into his own world inside his mind. He no longer heard anything the other passengers were discussing.
No matter how hard he fought not to think about it, he remembered every detail of that terrible night. The memory of his mother’s hair soaked
in blood, his sister, Erin, laying on her side, lifeless, the expression on his father’s face. All of it came back to him and wouldn’t go away. He was sweating profusely; theonly thought in his mind was to escape from the terrible pictures running through his head.
He stood, took a handkerchief from his pocket and began to wipe his forehead, then took a step towards the door. He managed to open the door and finally made it outside the compartment. He took a few steps away, lifted the window a crack and tried to take a deep breath. The deep chill of the winter blizzard brought him to his
He stared outside at the countryside. He could see the moon shining down on powder white snow being blown about by fierce wind. He could see fields of snow and how they appeared to be divided, some by boulders heaped with more snow, others by tall aspens, their
branches laden with the fi ne white powder. He could see the edge of a dense forest in the far distance.
He could see again.
Kaya tells a tale of revenge as a way of life, and how it can eat away at a man.
Ramzi Ozcomert lived his first 14 years in northeastern Turkey. In the middle of the 20th century, it is a place that feels much older, obsessed with the idea of honor—family honor, blood honor and revenge. Ramzi’s father embodies the code and instills it in his son. As drawn by Kaya, the elder Ozcomert is radiant, but not altogether good. He is scarily unflinching, as only those who do not wrestle with doubt can be. Then revenge rears its head to shatter Ramzi’s curiously fascinating, feudal world—he must flee or be taken victim by the same wrath that wiped out his family. Kaya fashions this world with exactingness—the vendettas, enemies everywhere, the artful social dance one had to comply with, or live constantly looking over their shoulder.
Young Ramzi is put on a train to Istanbul where he has a delightfully Hitchcockian encounter with a small group of enigmatic souls debating the rift in Turkish society: “We are men of conscience. If someone violates one’s honor, murder is justified,” says one, while another responds, “Our republic is supposed to be a democracy,but our people still think in the old ways.” Any uncertainties about Ramzi’s inclinations are put to rest when, in one of the book’s mildly disconcerting jumps, readers next find him in London. It is 13 years later, and he is in love and studying engineering, but unfinished business back home lurks in the background. As a successful businessman in Los Angeles, some 20 years later still, revenge consumes him.
“Coward. Coward,” says the voice in his head. Apparently you can take the village, but not the code, out of the man. Kaya is a dramatist and his love scenes are chromatic and ecstatic before revenge lowers the skies, and everything goes dark and edgy. “Vengeance only destroys,” says Ramzi’s friend in the end.
Highly atmospheric, transporting account of an ancient custom alive in a modern world.
Pacific Book Review
Behcet Kaya articulately portrays the story of a man’s life from childhood to death, with a unique underlying theme of the man’s Voice of Conscience, appropriately titled. The book cover, displaying a shadow of a man perplexed in thought, unlike Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker with his chin resting on his fist of strength; rather his head held in torment holding his possibly throbbing forehead in anguish. The shadow is cast upon a black and white boardwalk, bleak and colorless, as it is broken from its continuity from where it continues into a colorful, plush, welcoming forest of changing seasons towards its destination; as one sense the omnipresence daunting the character before even starting the novel.
The symbolism crafted into this cover photo becomes self-evident as the reader is immersed into a Turkish family, the Ozcomerts, and begin to learn the customs of Ramzi Senior, his wife Nermin, son Ramzi Jr., and their beautiful daughter, Erin. All seems different to those of us raised in Western civilization, yet sustainable in the lifestyles of the people in the town of Atamkoy, Turkey, back in the 1960’s. The events of then modern day are cleverly juxtaposed against the customs and heritage of the past generations in this segment of the Muslim culture when the unthinkable happens. The entire Ozcomert family is brutally murdered by the Korucu family, with the exception of Ramzi Jr., narrowly escaping. He is forced to hide for the rest of his life from the family of killers set upon revenge. Whereas the reader up to this point was led to believe the father, Ramzi Sr. was the main character of the book, upon his death the focus cleverly shifts to his son; Ramzi Jr. as being the protagonist. Hence, revenge besets revenge, an eye for an eye, only at this point young Ramzi needs to hide and survive, and is scared and confused.
A whirlwind of events occur at a fast pace, when next the story settles down in England. Ramzi Jr., now an adult, is studying engineering and has his social structure of supportive friends. It is there while working as a waiter he meets a young lady, Megan, the daughter of a wealthy American businessman, and they fall in love. All throughout their courtship the reader senses the omnipresence of the dark secret and pain held within the mind of Ramzi, but it is unspoken. What manifests itself as a form of quietness of his personality and in his social demeanor is always in the background recognized by the reader as being his tormented soul from his past. I found this part of Behcet Kayak’s story particularly well done, as he brought the reader into tight dialogue and challenging conversations with British society, and embellished Ramzi’s character into a credible, intelligent person.
Good fortune and family development bring the couple to California, as Ramzi becomes ever so busy running a successful company and with Megan raising their two daughters. Life is totally different than how it was in Atamkoy, but Ramzi isn’t. As Behcet Kaya wrote, “For several more weeks Ozcomert did battle with himself, with his conscience, with his soul. At night he tossed and turned in bed, his head spinning. What is happening to me? I have a right to be happy, my sister had God’s given right to live and pursue happiness. The voice in his head wouldn’t go away. Kill, kill, kill. I am getting older and will depart from this world, but my soul will not rest, until I do away with the Korucu sons. Even after I die I will find them in the other world and kill them.”
As systematic as one’s life is tiered upon the foundation of their childhood, so weakens the strength of character if one isn’t true to themselves, or honest in the respect they show to their parents. Ramzi sought the strength for revenge, however in doing so destroyed all that he had become. A tragic ending is brought to this book, which in turn powerfully imprints the character into the reader’s mind.
An excellent work worthy of the accolades it has been receiving, Behcet Kaya’s Voice of Conscience will become a voice within your mind. Ramzi will haunt you when and if at times animalistic revenge creep into your thoughts, you might then say to yourself,“Is it worth it?”
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Reader Reviews for "Voice of Conscience"
|Reviewed by Brittany Walters-Bearden
|Bechet Kaya renders a gripping tale of grief, tragedy, revenge, and death in his novel, Voice of Conscience. Ramzi Ozcomert is a troubled man who is forced to leave his native Turkey and restart his life in London after the vicious murder of his family. While in London, Ramzi meets and falls in love with Megan, who happens to be a rich and well-cultured American. Ramzi and Megan eventually move to America and start their family and a successful business. Although Ramzi has a seemingly perfect life, he cannot rid his head of the horrors that happened to his family nor can he shed his desire to avenge his slain family. Kaya takes his readers through an emotional gambit with each turn of the page.|