Jason Goodwin is a novelist, historian and traveller, winner of the JLR/Mail on Sunday Prize for On Foot to the Golden Horn, and of the Edgar Award for Best Novel his first Yashim mystery, The Janissary Tree.

Yashim’s Istanbul Cook Book is coming soon! 

Jason’s books include: The Gunpowder Gardens: Travels in China and India in Search of Tea; On Foot to the Golden Horn: AWalk to Istanbul; Greenback: The Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America;and Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire.

The Janissary Tree became an international bestseller. The fifth book in the series, The Baklava Club, is out now in the US and the UK. Jason’s books are translated into over forty languages.

Gunpowder GardensTravel

Lords of the HorizonsHistory

The Janissary TreeFiction


156 thoughts on “

    • Thank you for posting the link here: the diagram is used by the Contessa for fencing in THE BELLINI CARD, but of course it’s fun to muse on it peacably too.

  1. What??????? !!!!!!!!!!! No more Yashim????? I have him filed right after Furst and before Conan Doyle;and dedicated at least 6″ of new library shelving for him.Bah humbug!!!!!! Now what to read in my dotage????

    • Thank you! If you can cling on until June, there is THE BAKLAVA CLUB…! A good inch and a half, I’d have thought?

    • Absolutely – there will be THE BAKLAVA CLUB, which comes out in June. I’m so glad you found the movie – I think maybe I need to spring clean the website somehow: it’s like a crazy old house that has come together in different epochs, leaving it with curious old stairways and uneven landings and unexpected windows… Thanks for getting in touch!

    • Not yet, Gerry: but it’s a great project which I’d like to undertake! We have been talking about a Yashim cookbook – with Palewski’s beef and sorrel sauce, and contributions from other characters, too, alongside Yashim’s own peerless Ottoman creations. I will keep everyone posted here. best, Jason

  2. I am going to Istanbul all because of Yashim….how can we do without him???? For heaven’s sake don’t kill him off, just in case he won’t let you alone and you decide to perhaps…such nice writing, have read the walk book and loved it and Lords of the Horizon many years ago and fell in love with things Turkish (as well as Bosnian by the way, especially Sarajevo even now). Many thanks!

    • Thank you, Suzanne – that makes me very proud (I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but I do hope you’ll enjoy The Baklava Club). How great that you’re going to Istanbul: I’m told it has been voted the world’s favourite destination, so I advise booking ahead! And may you gave a wonderful trip. Best wishes, Jason

  3. Hi, Jason in honor of The Baklava Club coming out today, I made a bulghur pilaf that Yashim would be proud of. Lots of veggies and chicken cooked with lentils, toasted orzo cooked in chicken broth seasoned with spices.

  4. Hello Jason, im wondering when de translated version of The Baklava Club is coming out in dutch, because i can’t find it anywhere.

    • Hi Ellen, I’m afraid – don’t hold your breath! You had better read it in English because I am not sure what the publishing situation in the Netherlands is at the moment. best Jason

  5. Dear Jason, you’re a wonderful writer and I love your marvelous tales of Istanbul. Your characters are lively, Yashim is a wonderful hero,you write women well, and I promise you I actually know Palewski in real life. With thanks and all best wishes, Kathleen

    • Thank you, Kathleen: it’s always good to hear that Palewski is alive and kicking out there! all best, Jason

  6. Hi Jason. I’m writing to say that it struck me as I was reading The Snake Stone (now, finishing The Bellini Card) that your portrayal of the Greeks of Istanbul is spot on- tender, mildly ironic, insightful and thoroughly researched. You bring to life a chapter of Greek history that unfortunately is still difficult for the Greeks themselves to describe without ambivalent sentiments. This brilliant period of co-existence of ‘tribes’ in one magnificent city is forever tainted in their conscience by the events and bloodshed that followed in Smyrna and beyond. As a Greek who read ancient history at Cambridge to escape my own conditioning (what a relief to revisit the ancient Greeks without the weight of ‘glorious heritage’ on my shoulders) I really thank you for a great job. And yes, do please publish a book of recipes to accompany Yashim’s life and times. Many will be forever grateful! Warm wishes, isadora

    • Thank you for getting in touch, and for your kind comments. It was such an interesting time, and the issues that surrounded Greek independence were so complex: I tried to see them from an Ottoman point of view in my history, Lords of the Horizons. Whatever happens, Greeks always bring curiosity and vivacity to any situation. And the tragedy of Smyrna and beyond belongs to another age, as you observe. Thank you. Jason

    • Jason captures the events and moods of rhe time with accuracy and feeling. but let’s acknowledge the fact that the actual history of the Ottoman Empire in Yashim’s time andshortly after was not only tragic but complicated. The different ethnic groups Turk, Greek, Armenian, Kurd and Jew (not to mention many others) in this multicultural and vast empire were ALL victims of their time. Otherempires, the Austro-Hungarian and German were also destroyed. The British and French Empires profited briefly but these victories sewed the seeds of their eventual demise. Some of the echoes of those times are still heard today

  7. Hi Jason,
    I have just finished reading ‘The Baklava Club’ which I enjoyed very much, a real page turner, it only lasted me a few days! They have a very particular resonance for me because of my family’s connections with Istanbul. My great grandmother’s family were thought to have been involved in the Polish Revolt and fled to Istanbul, where her father placed her and her siblings in a French catholic orphanage in Pera before (possibly) returning to Poland. Although this was the 1860s, the Baklava Club touches on the fomenting machinations that led up to this final Revolt. There were many Poles who fled to Istanbul between 1848 and the 1860s as a consequence. (Palewski will find himself in good company in future years)!

    My great grandmother married the son of Maltese Levantines who had come to Istanbul themselves in the 1830s (Yashim’s period) when the Ottomans were really starting to open up to Western commerce. But what may surprise you is that her youngest sister Marie married Dr Edwin Van Millingen, the youngest son of the very real Dr Julius Millingen. You can imagine my surprise and delight when he popped up as a character in ‘The Snake Stone’ and again in ‘The Baklava Club’! (although I think you’ve made him a little older than he actually was – he was born 1800). As I expect you are aware Julius had some colourful adventures in his lifetime that are certainly not out of keeping with the Yashim mysteries. His first wife was implicated in a truly murky story which culminated in the murder of the chief eunuch in the harem of the man who was to become Grand Vizier and one of his sons was a real black sheep involved in all sorts of espionage and skullduggery!

    The Yashim mysteries bring this all to life, they so well evoke the period, the colour and the excitement of Istanbul. It remains my favourite city and one I hope to return to soon. I look forward to the cookery book. Keep up the good work.

    • Dear Angela, Thanks for sharing those wonderful stories. There was, of course, the village of Adampol, or Polonezköy, on the Bosphorus, which was a Polish enclave set up by Czartoryski’s emissary, and named after the great statesman himself. The emissary, Michal Czajkowski, himself ‘turned Turk’, converting to islam and becoming Sadyk Pasha, commanding a Cossack regiment against Russians. Almost a match for your ancestors! What tales!
      Thank you for getting in touch and I am so glad you have enjoyed the books.
      All best,

  8. Yikes, I just finished the baklava club (spoiler alert). Very good book – I read that last section several times – did you really and truly kill palewski and yashim as it seems to be implied? Why for gosh sakes!!!!

  9. I re-read the ending several times and I am not sure who died. Palewski I think, not sure.BUT the finest writing of the last moments of life I have ever read. Home!

  10. I love all of the Yashim books. My problem is that audible.com in the U.S. has not released the last one (The Baklava Club) yet. When can we expect the audiobook version to be available? I love listening to these books. The reader, Stephen Hoye, is excellent.

  11. Dear Bill
    I think both Yashim and Palewski survived. Read Marta’s last words: “Kyrie!” (The Greek word for “master”). ” Yashim Effendi!”

    Therefore two people. Then “the murmur of men’s voices and the sound of their footsteps as they crossed the hall.”

  12. Hi – Is Palewski really dead? Is this one really your last novel in the series? Thank you. Do bring them both back – Yashim and his friend.

    • I appreciate your concern: without broadcasting too loudly, may I suggest (spoiler alert!) you check out Valerie’s reply to Bill, below. I think she got it.
      Meanwhile, I have a short Yashim story, but no plans for a new adventure quite yet. But, to be frank, I miss them – Yashim and his friends. Best, Jason

  13. Just spent two long layovers in Istanbul (one each way on Turkish Air, which provides free tours if your layover is long enough!). So glad to have had the introductions that Yashim (with Jason’s help) gave me. Now I have to re-read the books with a better sense of the physical topography — I’m sure I’ll get so much more out of them. While I was in Istanbul, a friend introduced me to contemporary mysteries by Ahmet Umit — provides the current companion to Yashim’s historical perspective.

  14. Just spent two long layovers in Istanbul (one each way on Turkish Air, which provides free tours if your layover is long enough!). So glad to have had the introductions that Yashim (with Jason’s help) gave me. Now I have to re-read the books with a better sense of the physical topography — I’m sure I’ll get so much more out of them. While I was in Istanbul, a friend introduced me to contemporary mysteries by Ahmet Umit — provides the current companion to Yashim’s historical perspective.

    • So glad you enjoyed them, Alice! Yes, and I wish it too – and if I did publish Yashim’s cookbook, would you buy it even if it didn’t have a photo on every page? best wishes, Jason

      • No need for pictures of every recipe – your descriptions are wonderful! But I’m sure your recipe testers would be willing to photograph their results.

  15. I think you should claim a percentage judging by all the visits made to Istanbul solely on your (Yashim) recommendation (mine included). Jason you are the most marvellous ad for any traveller and it is about time the Turkish Government honoured you with at least a modest house overlooking the Bosphorous. All power to your quill! Whatever you write will be eagerly devoured by your fans.

  16. Hi Jason, I’m Sabrina from Trieste (Italy) and I love all Yashim’s adventures. I hope you’ll publish “The Baklava Club” in my language too.
    Ciao e grazie

    • Hello, Sabrina. I’m so pleased you enjoy the books. The Baklava Club – I Cospiratori del Baklava – translated by Cristiana Mennella, is out this January with Einaudi: buon appetito! ciao, Jason

  17. Yes, Jason, I would want to buy Yashim’s cookbook even if it didn’t have pictures. A lot of the dishes are familiar to me.. similar to ones I had when I lived in the Middle East… made me hungry!

    • Fascinating story, Alice! Thank you for bringing it to our attention. It would certainly make an interesting and unexpected case for Yashim! Fie on Queen Victoria for being so parsimonious.

  18. Dear Mr. Goodwin, I have read Snake Stone and Janissary Tree, and am about to finish Bellini card . I loved all of them , I have already dwnloaded the other two on my Kindle , cannot wait to read them all .
    I was a bit confused though , the mother of Mahmut 2 , valide Naksidil sultan was dead in 1817 ( way before her son died in 1839 ) , but in your books she is still alive even when her grandson Abdulmecid is the new sultan . Did you do it on purpose ? , also in my kindle book The Janissary tree, sultan Mahmut 2 is mistakenly written as Mahmut 4 , there was never a Mahmut 4 in the Ottoman sultans , may be that is a mistake in the kindle book ? Thank you and congratulations

    • Thanks, Handan, and I’m so glad you have enjoyed the stories. The error over Mahmut’s number is weird – thank you for pointing it out: I’ll do what I can to get it changed to Mahmut II. As for Valide Naksidil Sultan, I so loved the legend about her origins on Martinique, and could so happily picture her as a tough, beautiful Frenchwoman, that I just couldn’t bear to lose her! Best wishes, Jason

  19. Re-reading the first 3 Yashim novels and just ordered the evil eye- your books are helping me get through this FREEZING winter in NYC… I am a big fan!

    • Ah – there are some terrible snows in An Evil Eye! Worse, I hope, than anything you’re having. Stay warm, and thank you. Jason

  20. Have read all the Yashim novels, Lords of the horizon, On foot to the Golden Horn and I was dismayed to”hear” mentioned in the ether that Yashim has sleuthed and cooked his way thru to the end?? I so hope I have heard incorrectly! I do know Yashims cookbook is on its way but I so hope He will live to transport us and all of our senses another day! If it is true that you have written your last I am sad , Yashim stands for me with Ariana Franklins “Adelia Aguilar” as a most magnificent character of fiction. When I searched for the next publishing date for Ms Franklins newest book in the saga I literally cried when I read of her passing from illness. We readers become so captivated, so e admired of these characters and their lives. A heavy burden , for sure, for an author. If you have indeed written Yashims last adventure thank you for opening up a part of the world to all of us. It’s history, sights, smells and tastes!! As prior posts have mentioned, I too am inspired to travel to this part of the world ! Excuse the verbosity, All the best with future endeavors.

  21. Dear Mr. Goodwin,
    I do hope you will find the time, inclination and energy to continue the Yashim mysteries. Like Donna Leon’s series of mysteries that take place in Venice and feature one commisario (and his wife’s recipes), the Yashim series has grown on me and I cannot bear the thought of parting from him (and the fabulous, intriguing descriptions of Istanbul at the time). I read them after having read the Lords of the hOrizons, which I found to be such an original and fascianting way of depicting history.
    Perhaps you would be interested in finding a Hebrew translator so that many of my compatriots would be able to read the books in Hebrew and learn more about our neighbor’s past.
    Your devoted fan,
    Ms. Yael Sharan

  22. I’ve been doing/ teaching/ researching Middle Eastern & North African dances for over 55 years, mostly “in culture”, so, of course, anything to do with Arabic, Turkic, Farsi-speaking areas interests me. I love Turkey, especially Istanbul – been there many, many times & Turkish food is to die for! I read your first 4 Yahim novels on my Kindle & liked them SO much, I will rush to get “the Baklava Club” today. Yashim is wonderful – please don’t kill him off!!!. FWIW, I also recommend Leyla Saz Hanimefendi’s excellent memoirs & Douglas Scott Brookes’ “The Concubine, the Princess & the Teacher” to all my students & in my reference book for their accurate info. I’ll find/ get HRH Princess Musbar Haidah’s too.

    I’m fond of saying that I need a compass, a map & Sacajawea to find the kitchen (I don’t cook. I live in NYC & if I want food, I use the phone!), but YOUR descriptions of Yashim’s food preparation make me want to actually COOK. I’ll get the cookbook as soon as it comes out – I want that stuffed mackerel!!! Thank you for all the pleasure your hard work has given me. FYI – this is me: http://www.casbahdance.org/about/bio

  23. I am infatuated with your hero Yashim, got the first volume as a gift befor travelling to Istanbul and have bought the other volumes. The last tree are not translated into Swedish but fortunately i read English better than I write. The books are full of historical facts, personalities, food and everything you could wish for and have been a great historical background when visiting Istanbul. Looking forward to Reading more books hope your series continues indefinitely. I cannot bear the thought of parting with Yasim, he is my secret companion!

    • That’s supposed to be a link to Amazon in the UK, where the Baklava Club audio book is available now. I don’t know if that would work for you? Hope so! J

  24. So glad that the conversation goes on. I live in hope of another Yashim book, although the historical narrative is going to get a bit sticky, as the Valide Sultan must die (sad as that will be) – in fact she should have died some time before – . and Yashim is getting older. I am not sure I want to know what the end of Yashim would have been in late C19th Istanbul. Perhaps he and Pawlewski and perhaps Preen could go together into exile (with the lovely Marta and whatever extended family she may be shown to have) to seek another career in a less volatile country.

  25. Thank you for writing the Yashim books; I get to travel in time and space with a remarkable man. I was in the middle of reading “An Evil Eye” when I received a flyer from Trader Joe’s (grocery store). They are offering Muhammara as a new item. After reading Yashim’s preparation of it, I will have to try it. Thanks again for the entertaining and informative books.

  26. Dear Mr. Goodwin. I’ve just finished your book “Lords of the Horizons”. I’m speechless. Thank you for writing a really informative and interesting book about the Ottomans. Very good read!

  27. Dear Jason Goodwin,
    Your books have been key in introducing American readers to the Ottoman Empire. I recently wrote and illustrated a book titled The Eastern Question, a Geopolitical History in 108 Maps and Drawings. The drawings are historical political cartoons; the maps ground the reader in the geography of time and place. The artwork is on the right-hand page, a short text is on the left. The primary focus of the book is on the Ottoman Empire. Your book, Lords of the Horizons, was a great help to me in writing The Eastern Question.

    May I send you an advance copy of the book? If so, please send a mailing address via email. I would be interested in your thoughts and comments.

  28. I went to Istanbul this summer and before I left, I served for fiction and nonfiction about and located in Turkey. That is how I found Yashim. I found that reading his adventures, and your perceptions of the cultures and stereotypes and superstitions, not to mention the geography helped me enjoy my actual time there more. I’ve recommended these books to many of my friends. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Romana! Yashim has persuaded a lot of my readers to visit Istanbul: it is great when Istanbul returns the compliment, and persuades a visitor to meet Yashim. And I’m glad he helped you round the city.

  29. I have just finished On Foot To The Golden Horn. It is exceptional. A thousand or more pictures in words. Many years ago when Romania and Bulgaria were being considered for EU membership, I edited a statistical book (not my usual occupation) for the European Commission. I rapidly concluded that inviting them in would be to accept gigantic lies about almost everything that was fundamental to the responsibilities of membership. Your “walk” verifies this in a far more dramatic way than my brief from the EU would have allowed.

    I have read and relished every one of your Yashim books, visited Istanbul several times and now have reluctantly accepted that you are denying the world more stories of his life. Then, just last week, realised that I had never read On Foot… It is a long time since I enjoyed such vivid use of words.

    Most of my writing has been related to teaching, but a few years back I wrote a novel, which a friend said reminded her of Yassim. Actually, I think she was just being nice and really was adding in her head: “but you don’t come up to his kneecaps.”

    I salute your talent.

    Kenneth Smith.

    • I’m honoured and delighted, Kenneth: thank you for your kind remarks. I think you should press on with that novel, no?

  30. Just read Lords of the Horizon and then On Foot to the Golden Horn and both are wonderful. Lots of great information and stories. And now The Janissary Tree! Can’t get enough! Thank you!

  31. Your review of The Middle Sea as the book to take when anywhere near the Mediterranean was spot on! Have done this twice now and loved every page.

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