Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkish author Murathan Mungan

Excerpt, from "Chador by Murathan Mungan: Journey into Nowhere"
(a few lines from a review of the novel Chador by Mungan)
By Volker Kaminski, © 2008, Translated from the German by Aingeal Flanagan

Returning home can be a dangerous thing. Those who return to the cities of their birth after a long absence to search for relations or find their roots can get a rude awakening. They may find that no-one welcomes them with open arms and that the things and people they thought they knew are strange and cold to them....This is exactly how Akhbar feels when he returns to his native country after many years in exile. He lost contact with his family years ago, his father died at a young age, and Akhbar does not know whether his mother and siblings are still alive. Now he discovers that his beloved home has changed completely. Parts of the country have been destroyed by war; streets and houses are deserted...

The story begins with a drive over the border into a hot, desert-like country. The reader gets the impression that this country is Turkey. However, the world described in the book is not as the reader might expect. Many things seen through the eyes of the protagonist seem exaggerated.The reader gets wound up in events that seem fantastic, reason gives way to the fable, and everything becomes increasingly surreal until the reader realises that the things described in the book are born more out of a vision than any real experience.Mungan's language is very poetical. He makes every effort to achieve a clarity based on powerful images; sentences linger in the mind of the reader; atmospheres, smells, and noises become almost tangible, although the descriptions of them may seem a little exaggerated to western European readers.

Excerpt from "Murathan Mungan: The Muse of Mardin"
(a few lines from a profile of Mungan)
By Nimet Seker, © 2008, Translated from the German by Ron Walker

"Literature was long seen as a substitute for politics in Turkey. Literature was loved and popular in the service of politics."The words belong to Murathan Mungan. Mungan is a cult author in Turkey, every bit as well known and successful as Orhan Pamuk. He is not only a writer of literature and song lyrics – entire CDs have even been dedicated to him...Mungan stands apart in other ways too. It is not only his themes and his Kurdish-Arab roots that make him something of an unconventional figure. Mungan is homosexual and speaks openly about it. Like his characters, he too has an abrasive approach to taboos, and an outsider's regard for social norms and conventions...So far, none of Mungan's novels are available in English. A pity, it has to be said. It really is high time that the writer achieved wider international recognition.