Other Books

At the Breakfast Table

After Rain

Summer Heat

Hide and Seek

Blue Forest

The Human Condition

Ways of Escaping from Home

At the Breakfast Table

(Available in Turkish, Greek, Serbian and Norwegian)

At the Breakfast Table is the story of the unfolding of a family secret that has been carried out for four generations. The main plot takes place over two days in the Prinkipo Island of Istanbul. The grandchildren, who struggle to unravel their grandmother’s hidden history and the loyal servant who stubbornly hides this secret take turns to narrate the story.

While the main plot spans across two days on the island, the secondary plots are carried forth by narratives that take place in other places such as Istanbul, Mediterranean coast and the Black Sea region of Turkey.

The novel deals with the social amnesia created deliberately by the Turkish state and its own version of history. Younger generations suffer a loss of memory, having no knowledge of the massacres that took place on Turkish soil over the last century. Yet their subconscious is still wounded from the past. The novel questions whether there is a connection between attaining individual freedom and confronting history.

Prinkipo Island emerges before us like another character in the novel. With its abandoned churches, sealed monasteries, gardens overgrown with weeds, the island is a symbol of the vanished past. The island, at the same time, is the last castle of the urban aristocratic elite who is holding on to the dream of a Turkey that is cosmopolitan and European.

 

English publication date: 2022

After Rain

(Available in Turkish)

It is the year 2100. The world as we know it is finished. It has been devastated by war, pollution, viruses, natural disasters. The air is polluted, the sea is polluted, cities are ruined, water and food supplies are depleted, nature is destroyed, the stars, even the sun are barely visible through a gray haze and the human race is reaching its final end. However, human emotions endure, even in this nightmare scenario: love, hope, jealousy, loyalty, betrayal, grief, loneliness, cruelty.

The narrator of this short, stark novel is Rock, a young man, one of the last people left on earth. Although he knows the futility of writing when no one will remain to read his writing, he is compelled to confront his past and record it. His is a tale of friendship, of escape, of hardship, of loss, of love. He relates his childhood in an orphanage on an island cared for by childless, committed women, called “Mothers.” This orphanage becomes one of a series of ‘shelters’ where all children of the country are collected and raised to provide soldiers for the endlessly warring army and mothers to replace a dying population.

It is also on a personal level a story of the eternal triangle—the narrator, his best, his only, friend Cloud and Rain, the girl he loves. Rock and Rain manage to escape at a crucial time and the novel describes their journeys over the desolate world, purposely vague as to location, searching for a sanctuary that does not exist. In Rock’s writing he confesses his grief, his jealousy, his betrayal, his love. Irrationally, he continues to write. These emotions make the otherwise frighteningly ugly and extreme scenes seem familiar and real.

In this short, bleak novel Defne Suman deals with all the issues that concern us now—climate change, epidemics, pollution of our world, war, dictatorship, exile. She also conveys what it means to be human, even in the most dire of times. This compelling novel will haunt and charm, and never be forgotten.

Summer Heat

(Available in Turkish and Greek)

Melike Işık is a 40-year-old art historian who lives in Istanbul. One hot summer day in 2003 she leaves her summer home in Princes Island (Prinkipo) and takes the ferry to one of the old neighborhoods of the city: Fener. She has someone to meet in Fener, a young Greek man who introduced himself to Melike as a documentary director. His name is Petros. He is young and tall and greets Melike as if they knew each other for a long time. Melike, as an art historian is supposed to take Petro around the old Istanbul so Petros can prepare his documentary about the Byzantine churches of Istanbul.

They first meet at the entrance of the Church of Saint Mary of Mongols. This church is located right across from Melike’s long dead grandmother Safinaz. Melike thinks that this is coincidence but soon it turns out that Petros has a different and a bigger plan than the Byzantine churches. As Petros and Melike walk around the street of Fanari they visit old abandoned churches, narrow streets with poor wooden houses and in the middle of all that poverty and abandonment they arrive to the famous Greek Red School. Petros gets very excited. School with its magnificent architecture looks very impressive. He finds a (illegal) way to get inside the school and the two of them enter its courtyard and later inside the halls of the mysterious building.

While all this is happening Melike feels a strange electricity between herself and Petro. He is a young attractive man and Melike—although she is married—has regular lovers but the attraction she feels for Petro is unusual. As she tries to understand she remembers her past.

Hide and Seek

(Available in Turkish)

A New Year’s morning in Oregon, a college student Eda Kaya, locks herself in the bathroom of a laundry by mistake. In her confinement she revisits her recent past in Istanbul and attempts to resolve the mystery behind her charming cousin Leyla’s sudden disappearance.

Is Leyla playing hide and seek with Eda, or did she get lost in pursuit for love? Is the love she pursued for a man, or is it love of God? Could the Muslim businessman she had an affair with just before she had disappeared, have hurt her? Does Leyla confuse her first experience of sexuality with love? Or with faith? Did she suddenly cover her hair to rebel against her secular family, or did her secret lover force her to do so? What part does the mystical Islamic cult, where Leyla had secretly taken Eda one day, play in her vanishing?

Hide and Seek explores the crisis of urban youth in Istanbul who is stuck in between old school secular institutions and the newly growing conservatism patterns of Turkey in the 21st century. It is narrated from the perspective of a humorous and energetic young woman who grew up in Turkey and now lives in the USA. It is a perspective shifting story both for the ones who are inside and and for those who are outside of Turkey.

Blue Forest

(Available in Turkish)

Blue Forest is compilation of essays and journal entries. It is the first volume of a trilogy where Defne Suman tells her encounters with life in a sincere and friendly tone. Blue Forest covers her journal entries from 2007 to 2011. Her life in the Southeast Asia, first experiences with hatha yoga, leaving home, facing oneself, spirituality and relationships are discussed in a humorous tone throughout the book. Blue Forest, being Defne Suman’s debut book in Turkish, has been cherished very much from the day it was first published and has become a great source of inspiration for people in Turkey, especially for young women who would like to break free from the traditional structure of the society.

Human Condition

(Available in Turkish)

Human Condition is the sequel of Blue Forest. It is the second volume of a trilogy where Defne Suman tells her encounters with life in a sincere and friendly tone. It is the compilation of her journal entries from 2011 to 2014. The tone is still friendly but more mature than the “raw voice” of Blue Forest. Human Condition focuses mostly on growth and loss. Defne Suman depicts her experiences of becoming an instructor of Hatha Yoga and writing her first novel: Hide and Seek. Apart from yoga and creative writing, the meaning of marriage, love, sickness and death are discussed from a heartfelt perspective. Just like Blue Forest, Human Condition has become a great source of inspiration for people in Turkey, especially for young women who would like to break free from the traditional structure of the society. (The last volume of trilogy will soon be published in Turkey.)

Ways of Escaping from Home

(Available in Turkish)

Editor: Defne Suman

Inspired by Alejandro Zambra’s novel, Ways of Escaping Home is an anthology of short stories and memoirs of Turkish authors. Defne Suman is the creator of the project and the editor of the book. Well-known authors of Turkish literature including Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk as well as young promising writers who make their debut with this anthology contributed to the book with narratives of escaping from, staying at or returning home. It is a multicolored and fun book to read at a time when we are all reviewing our relationship with “home”.

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