The truest thing John Berger says in his preface to this boldly original Turkish novel is: 'Within an original work you lose your way. If you stay with it, you are captured . . . if you don't like losing your way you shut the book.' Latife Tekin's domain, which does merit getting lost in, is the shanty town that grew up in the 1960s on refuse heaps outlying Istanbul. Tekin draws upon the eccentric oral tradition of this society, which works figuratively in the narrative as a parable for all societies: with a nihilistic wit reminiscent of Samuel Beckett, she narrates the rise of squatter hut fashion, with its scavenged tin minarets and ornate embossed doors; she captures political and industrial action born of misfortune, customs and superstitions born of rumour, and laughter born of despair.
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