The writing of Ayfer Tunc is in essence urban, and yet she manages to imbue her characters with a fragile humanity and an old-fashioned sense of the melancholy of modern life.
In the title story, we meet Aziz Bey - at once the most genuine and the saddest of all her heroes.
Here we see the life of an ordinary Turkish man, a master tambour player of local fame, whose life stretches from Istanbul to Beirut because of his obsessive love for Maryam.
We witness the fading of this love with the passage of time and changing of circumstances, bringing us closer to this man than to many other modern protagonists.
With the soft touch of an accomplished writer, the life of this singular musician is laid bare in all its sweetness and mediocrity, until we are almost sure that we might catch a glimpse of him next time we visit the vibrant, all-night bars of Istanbul. 'The Snow Traveller' features another solitary man whose "deadly loneliness...ate into his soul like a malignant tumour." Esber, a train signal man, lives in a remote region of Turkey that, for most of the year, is carpeted in white.When a flash of colour appears he is exhilarated to discover a young woman lying in the snow and nurses her back to health. Fidan had jumped off the train, fleeing unnamed assailants.
However, she is quickly unsettled by Esber's unhealthy obsession. In 'A Cold Winter' Samavi Bey is also fixated by the memory of a woman.
After losing his wife in a fire, Samavi never get warm again.
He wanders from room to room in his house and visits coffee houses in an attempt to still his agitated heart.
Eventually he wanders into a hamam where "the heat of the bath seemed to him like the heat of a love that had eluded him." Tunc writes about bitter disappointment with real skill so that her characters sense of hopelessness is affecting rather than maudlin.
In the darkly comic 'Tales of Womanising', a man dreams of becoming a figure of desire.
His friends' idle boasts about their conquests infect his mood until he is mired in "a deep and fatal affliction." He starts to pretend to be having an affair.
Despite his wife's evident distress he can't stop himself and his various deceits become more and more elaborate with tragic consequences.In the final story, Tunc playfully recreates the existential anxieties of a series of characters waiting to be written into a story. Jealous of one another they are also highly ambitious regarding their development and status in the plot.
It's a fitting conclusion to this haunting, unique collection that vividly evokes Turkey's various landscapes.
- Format: Paperback / softback
- Pages: 154 pages
- Publisher: Istros Books
- Publication Date: 01/04/2013
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781908236111