Monday, September 04, 2006

The Messenger Boy Murders by Perihan Magden

I've discovered this British publisher, Milet, that focuses on publishing Turkish authors in translation, which for me, a Turk who doesn't speak Turkish, is pretty exciting. This short novel was a great find.

Every culture seems to have its Kafka, and Magden (there should be an accent over the g) is Turkey's. This novel, much like Murakami's (Japan's version) Kafka on the Shore, has a Kafka meets Raymond Chandler voice that I loved. The end is rather abrupt but it's not troubling me too much. I found myself wondering, because the book is written by a woman but translated by a man, if that affected the voice (the narrator is male and believably so, I found). I resist the idea that a writing voice can be masculine or feminine (I don't like when Hemingway's writing, for example, is called masculine--because if his spare prose is masculine writing then what does that make feminine writing?), but it's hard to insist that there isn't any gender effect on writing. But since I can't read the original, guess I'll never know.

When I first started teaching writing, I didn't teach works in translation because they were a step away from the original author's language, etc. But then I realized that would limit the scope and variety of what I could teach and just perpetuate the idea that great work is only written in English. So now when I teach work in translation, I tend to focus more on content and structure, ambition and style, rather than actual word choice.


just a guy that bookmarks bookblogs said...

Sounds interesting. Will put it on my must buy list. I can appreciate your concerns regarding teaching translated authors -- I do not teach but I often wonder about the quality of my translation, especially when its a classic that is being translated.

barbaros altug said...

Dear Mrs. Bucak,

I read your article in full enjoyment. I am an agent for Turkish writers and the agent for Mrs. Perihan Magden as well. I would like to send you some more information on Turkish writers time to time. my e-mail is: