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Selcuk Altun's Turkish Lit Recommendations

To mark the English-language release of Selcuk Altun’s new novel, Many and Many a Year Ago, The Guardian asked him to give a top 10 list of his favorite Turkish novels. Click the above link for all of his descriptions, but here’s the list with links to purchase English translations and a few of my comments:

1. Mrs Valley’s War: The Shelter Stories by Feyyaz Kayacan Fergar

Not the easiest book to find, but it was translated and published in the UK in 2007.

2. The Poems of Oktay Rifat by Oktay Rifat

Thank God for Anvil Press.

3. Memed, My Hawk by Yaşar Kemal

Personally I’ve been very interested in reading this ever since NYRB reissued it a few years back.

4 Yaşar Kemal: On his Life and Art by Yaşar Kemal

Can’t find an English translation—not much of a surprise.

5. My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk

6. Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk

7. Sleeping In the Forest by Sait Faik

This book—which was published in English by Syracuse University Press and translated by Jayne Warner—sounds pretty intriguing. Compared to Chekhov, the stories range from “the realistic to the surrealistic, from the romantic to the modern, from the cynical to the compassionate.”

8. Night by Bilge Karasu

This is OP, but something I’m picking up from the library. . . . Here’s a PW review:

Karasu’s Kafka-esque political parable, first published in his native Turkey in 1984, evokes the fear and paralysis of will that grip ordinary citizens in a modern police state. His dystopia is a tyranny where squads of “nightworkers” randomly shoot or beat to death victims. The plot concerns a nameless, open-minded writer whose ex-schoolmate (known simply as “N”), now the head of a repressive state agency, orders him to attend a symposium abroad. The writer learns in advance that he is to be shot—though not killed—at the conference for propaganda purposes. Sevinc, the agent assigned to set him up, becomes his homosexual lover; another agent, Sevim, N’s former wife, develops a conscience and turns up dead on the writer’s doorstep. In postmodern footnotes, Karasu periodically interrupts the narrative to further the plot while commenting on its artifice. Winner of the Mobil Corporation’s Pegasus Prize honoring works from countries whose literature is rarely translated into English, this is a fiercely inventive novel, but the dreamlike atmosphere and setting tends to weaken its impact.

Wow.

9. A Mind at Peace by Ahmet H Tanpınar

Gifted to Obama earlier this year . .

10. Beyond the Walls, Selected Poems by Nazım Hikmet

Another Anvil book . . .



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