Milet Books 2004
Boundless Solitude relates the story of closet-lesbian Handan Sarp, a soprano at the Istanbul City Opera. Weighed down by the psychological trauma of her constant struggle in the claustrophobic heterosexual world around her, she is trapped in a complex web of introspection. She is also a victim of her own snobbery and class values, reflected in her relationship with a young working-class seamstress. It is an intense exploration of suppressed feelings and the queer underworld of Istanbul. Excellent translation by Mark Wyers.
Reviews and Info
Independent Publishers Group (USA)
Writer: Hasan Ali Toptaş
Known for his skilful and imaginative use of language,Toptas is an important figure in Turkish postmodern literature. His blurring of reality and surreality have led to inevitable comparisons with Kafka. His novel Gölgesizler was made into a film of the same name. It was directed by Ümit Ünal, and Toptas also made a personal appearance in the film. The English translation of his novel, Heba, was published in 2013.
Translated works with links to publishers, summaries and reviews:
Other useful links:
I am delighted that my translation from the novel Savaşın Çocukları (Children of War) is a winner in the PEN presents Europe Awards for 2015. The book is set on Crete before the outbreak of World War One and is one of my all time favourite novels. You can read my submission and the other five wonderful translations on the PEN website.
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar 1901-1962
Tanpınar’s novels are set in the period after the establishment of the Turkish Republic and reflect the angst of intellectuals living through a radical top down revolution.
Currently two of Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’s novels are available in English:
The Time Regulation Institute (Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü)
Translated by Maureen Freely and Alexander Dawe, Penguin Classics
A Mind at Peace (Huzur)
Translated by Erdağ Göknar, Archipelago Books
New York Times review of The Time Regulation Institute
Guardian review of the Time Regulation Institute
Quarterly Conversation review of a Mind at Peace
Archipelago Books review of Mind at Peace
University of Rochester Three Percent review of Mind at Peace
I’ll start with a personal favourite….
Writer: Orhan Kemal
Life: 1914 – 1970
Summary: His novels and short stories relate the daily life of the urban poor, many from amongst the agricultural and factory workers of the Adana region, in a time of great social upheaval in Turkey. His works reflect the effects of economic changes on the local people and the contradictions inherent in society. His fluid and fast flowing style, along with a positive outlook on the human spirit, has contributed to his long lasting popularity.
During his lifetime, he supported himself with many different jobs both blue collar and white collar, and it was only in later life that he was able to survive from his writing. He lived in the Adana region for many years but also in Syria, Lebanon and Istanbul. In the 1930’s he was imprisoned on a charge of spreading communist propaganda and spent some time in Bursa Prison with the poet, Nazim Hikmet. Aswell as producing 30-40 novels and story anthologies, he also wrote plays and film scripts. One of his plays, about life in prison in the 1940’s, Ward 72 (72.Koğuş) has twice been made into a film.
Translated works with links to publishers and review:
The Idle Years – My Father’s House
Turkish title: Avare Yıllar – Baba Evi
Publisher: Peter Owen Publishers
review: Independent Newspaper
Turkish title: 72. Koğuş
Publisher: Everest Publishing
Reviews: Overview from Everest in English
In Jail with Nazim Hikmet
Turkish title: Nazım Hikmet’le Üç Buçuk Yıl
Publisher: Saqi Books
Reviews: Cornucopia Magazine
Translations into other languages:
Comprehensive list of works translated to other languages on the Orhan Kemal website – see below for link.
Other useful links:
Orhan Kemal Website