Hello, readers! Welcome to another #5OnMyTBR update. The rule is relatively simple. I just have to pick five books from my to-be-read pile that fit the week’s theme.

As there is still no fresh prompt until now, I am taking the liberty to do my own topics. For August, I have decided to embark on a journey across Asia through the works of Asian literature. As such, I have been featuring works of Asian literature I have added to my growing reading list. For this week, I am featuring works of Turkish literature. Except for the works of Nobel Laureate in Literature Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak, my venture into Turkish literature has been limited at best. Their works, nevertheless, have convinced me that there is more to Turkish literature worth exploring. Here are some works of Turkish literature I can’t wait to immerse myself in. Happy Monday and happy reading!

P.S. this list is exclusive of the works of Pamuk and Shafak. It goes without saying that their works are also high on my list.

5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook where you chose five books from your to-be-read pile that fit that week’s theme. If you’d like more info, head over to the announcement post!

Title: Memed, My Hawk (Turkish: İnce Memed)
Author: Yaşar Kemal

Synopsis: A tale of high adventure and lyrical celebration, tenderness and violence, generosity and ruthlessness, Memed, My Hawk is the defining achievement of one of the greatest and most beloved of living writers, Yashar Kemal. It is reissued here with a new introduction by the author on the fiftieth anniversary of its first publication.

Memed, a high-spirited, kindhearted boy, grows up in a desperately poor mountain village whose inhabitants are kept in virtual slavery by the local landlord. Determined to escape from the life of toil and humiliation to which he has been born, he flees but is caught, tortured, and nearly killed. When at last he does get away, it is to set up as a roving brigand, celebrated in song, who could be a liberator to his people—unless, like the thistles that cover the mountain slopes of his native region, his character has taken an irremediably harsh and unforgiving form. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: Madonna in a Fur Coat (Turkish: Kürk Mantolu Madonna)
Author: Sabahattin Ali

Synopsis: The bestselling Turkish classic of love and longing in a changing world, available in English for the first time.

‘It is, perhaps, easier to dismiss a man whose face gives no indication of an inner life. And what a pity that is: a dash of curiosity is all it takes to stumble upon treasures we never expected.’

A shy young man leaves his home in rural Turkey to learn a trade in 1920s Berlin. The city’s crowded streets, thriving arts scene, passionate politics and seedy cabarets provide the backdrop for a chance meeting with a woman, which will haunt him for the rest of his life. Emotionally powerful, intensely atmospheric and touchingly profound, Madonna in a Fur Coat is an unforgettable novel about new beginnings and the unfathomable nature of the human soul.

‘Passionate but clear . . . Ali’s success [is in ] his ability to describe the emergence of a feeling, seemingly straightforward from the outside but swinging back and forth between opposite extremes at its core, revealing the tensions that accompanies such rise and fall.’ Atilla Özkirimli, writer and literary historian. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: The Time Regulation Institute (Turkish: Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü)
Author: Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar

Synopsis: Old Istanbul aristocrats, Turkish teashops, imperial diamonds, and great and humble mosques are juxtaposed with the almost non-descriptive portrayals of neighborhood friendships, family relations, and local public figures who could be found in any city in Turkey or, perhaps, any Eastern setting where the old way of life adopts new and Western counterparts. Ahmet H. Tanpinar’s portrayal of modern, post-Ottoman Turkey weaves a theater of the absurd, suggestively representative of the early days of the young Republic. This translation is introduced by an essay by the late Berna Moran, a leading Turkish literary critic. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: Istanbul Istanbul
Author: 
Burhan Sönmez
Country: Uzbekistan

Synopsis: “Istanbul is a city of a million cells, and every cell is an Istanbul unto itself.

Below the ancient streets of Istanbul, four prisoners—Demirtay the student, the doctor, Kamo the barber, and Uncle Küheylan—sit, awaiting their turn at the hands of their wardens. When they are not subject to unimaginable violence, the condemned tell one another stories about the city, shaded with love and humor, to pass the time. Quiet laughter is the prisoners’ balm, delivered through parables and riddles. Gradually, the underground narrative turns into a narrative of the above-ground. Initially centered around people, the book comes to focus on the city itself. And we discover there is as much suffering and hope in the Istanbul above ground as there is in the cells underground.

Despite its apparently bleak setting, this is a novel about creation, compassion, and the ultimate triumph of the imagination. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: Serenad
Author: Zülfü Livaneli

Synopsis: In this heartbreaking Turkish novel based on the real-life sinking of a refugee ship during World War II, an elderly professor leaves America to revisit the city where he last glimpsed his beloved wife.

Istanbul, 2001. Maya Duran is a single mother struggling to balance a demanding job at Istanbul University with the challenges of raising a teenage son. Her worries increase when she is tasked with looking after the enigmatic Maximilian Wagner, an elderly German-born Harvard professor visiting the city at the university’s invitation. Although he is distant at first, Maya gradually learns of the tragic circumstances that brought him to Istanbul sixty years before, and the dark realities that continue to haunt him.

Inspired by the 1942 Struma disaster, in which nearly 800 Jewish refugees perished after the ship carrying them to Palestine was torpedoed off the coast of Turkey, Serenade for Nadia is both a poignant love story and a gripping testament to the power of human connection in crisis. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: The Few
Author: 
Hakan Günday

Synopsis: I am here. Where are you?- These desperate words link the two protagonists of Hakan Gunday’s raw and fearless novel The Few. Derda is an eleven-year-old girl pulled out of boarding school by her mother who, without telling her, plans to sell her as a wife to a conservative tribesman. She goes with her new husband to London, where for five years he abuses and all but imprisons her. Even after escaping, Derda soon finds herself preyed upon by Londoners as well as other Turkish immigrants who have formed a criminal underworld.

In a parallel story set in Turkey, Derda, an eleven-year-old boy, buries his dead mother in secret to avoid being taken to the state orphanage. Alone, he becomes with an illegal book printing operation. He finds himself obsessed with a Turkish novelist, who Derda grows convinced died because he felt misunderstood and unappreciated. Increasingly unstable, Derda targets two contemporary writers, whom he accuses of stealing the writer’s fame.

The Few is an unflinching story of the vulnerability of the world’s youth when cultures, politics, and generations collide. In a time when countless refugees and children slip through the cracks, it is a powerful admonishment not to forget those who are helpless victims. (Source: Goodreads)