The Lighthouse Family
Review,  Fiction,  Historical Fiction

The Lighthouse Family by Firat Sunel – A Poignant and beautiful Literary Fiction

The Lighthouse Family is poignant and beautiful translated Literary Fiction, weaving a heartfelt tale of family and siblings bond.

The Lighthouse Family

The Lighthouse Family

The Lighthouse Family by Firat Sunel

Publication Date : January 4, 2024

Publisher : Penguin India

Read Date : April 24, 2024

Genre : Literary Fiction / Historical Fiction

Pages : 178

Source : Many thanks to publisher for review copy.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Keepers of the lonely lighthouse at Türkiye’s westernmost tip watch in horror as the Second World War sets the Aegean on fire.

Little K feels the weight of the world as he struggles with his desire to go to the city school or help look after the lighthouse as only he can. But his brother Ilyas finds a saintly courage in his limp bones and his sister Feriha becomes the strength of their spine.

While K ploughed the field in the mornings, Ilyas’ learnt the lessons in daylight to help K learn in the flickering beam of the lighthouse; knowing very well that’s the closest he’ll ever get to school. Feriha guarded the lighthouse; knowing she might be the only answer to their struggles. Their aunt Hanim Hala chanted around the mastic tree planted as a sapling:  the soul of the home they left behind.

How does their happiest morning turn into an endless night, how does a family with little to do beyond the lighthouse get ripped apart by a war that was not even theirs?

As K says “…I [‘ve] realized that emptiness was the worst thing that could fill you.”

The K that grows up from that is an answer to the world that forgets about kindness in its endless pursuit of power. An emotional and warm story reminding us of the need to rise for our children, the world’s children and to protect their dreams.


The Lighthouse Family” is a poignant Literary Fiction that delves in K’s happy childhood transporting readers into the idyllic setting of The Lighthouse of the top of the hills of Sarpıncık village in Turkey where his family lived as light house Keeper. Despite the hardships brought by his father’s strict nature and financial condition, the narrative unfurls the fabric of K’s familial bonds, only to be torn apart by the ravages of the war.

K is bright student who had potential to study in big institute. But weighed by worries about his father’s looming enlistment, his brother Ilyas’s health struggle due to his weak heart, and not having enough time to read because of field work, he had little hope to sit for exam.

But encouraged by his spirited big sister Feriha, support from mother and Ilyas who studied for him during the day so he can recite to K everything at night, triumphs against the odds doing his best in the exams.

The joy of doing best in the exam is soon faded when tragedy strikes followed by black out order, food being rationed, and people from Chios arriving to their shore from where his father was immigrated from. Ominous dark clouds gathers over The Lighthouse Family and when it passed they never were the same.

Though writing is simple it evokes profound emotional resonance. Initial chapters perfectly shows the roots of K’s family, where they came from, and how they suffered due to displacement and loss after the Lausanne treaty.

Even though K’s aunt Hanim Hala and K’s father hated the treatment they received in Chios, a part of their heart and soul still lived in their homeland Chios but they also brought a part of it with them, their mastic tree, that emphasis their ties to Chios and turmoil of migration.

Even though I could understand their lingering resentment for Greeks, I didn’t like what K’s father did because of that old grudge. He was orthodox and stubborn. Even after the guilt he lived with he didn’t exactly let go of his belief. We see complexities of cultural identity and intergenerational grievances through his character.

Little rebellion of K’s mother, prayers of Hanim Hala, and support of Feriha were beacons of life and hope in this poignant story. My heart broke most for Feriha. She deserved better life than how she lived after K went to institute.

The theme of grief, impact of WWII and how it changed the world long after it ended, life and struggle of immigrant, loneliness and homesickness were beautifully portrayed through life journey of K. K’s journey shows indomitable human spirit and resilience of the human heart to navigate through the storms of challenges.

It started at light house took him through corridors of institute igniting his love for books, photography, and political writing that also brought lots of trouble in life taking him away from his home to Germany where his soul finally lifted when he met Delphina but didn’t find solace until he could finally return home n the end. That end not just broke Little’s reserve of emotions but mine too.

Overall, The Lighthouse Family is poignant and beautiful literary fiction, weaving a heartfelt tale of family and siblings bond and forced immigration. This was my first translated fiction and now I want to read more translated books.

Goodreads | | |

The Lighthouse Family by Firat Sunel – A Poignant and beautiful Literary Fiction Many thanks @PenguinIndia for review copy.#TheLighthouseFamily #LiteraryFiction #translatedbook Check out full review –> Click To Tweet
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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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