Sema Kaygusuz: Yüzünde Bir Yer (Every Fire You Tend)

The latest addition to my website is the Sema Kaygusuz‘s Yüzünde Bir Yer (Every Fire You Tend). This is an intense feminist Turkish novel, whose starting point is Dersim rebellion in Eastern Turkey, which was brutally crushed by the Turks in 1938, with many killed and many sent into exile, including the author’s grandmother. We follow four strands. Firstly there is the exile of the Dersim people. Secondly is the narrator talking to the unnamed granddaughter of a woman who escaped the massacre and went into exile, and whose journey we follow. The third involves Hızır, a prophet/angel who assumes multiple disguises as he wanders through the book and through the centuries, generally helping where he can. Fourthly, we follow a series of other stories, set both in the past and present. The whole is superb and powerful work about language, violence, Turkish homogenisation, feminism and figs (which play a key role in this book).

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