Monday, January 15, 2007
2 Girls by Perihan Magden (translated by Brendan Freely)
This is the second novel I've read by Turkish writer Perihan Magden and I'm glad to have discovered her, and hope her work continues to be translated. This novel was apparently a big seller in Turkey and has been made into a movie (not as far as I know, available in the US). It's difficult to imagine this becoming a bestseller in the US because it's heavy on voice and is a fairly dark look at life as a young woman. The plot centers on a two week intense friendship between the two girls of the title, but its emotional core is one girl, Behiye, who starts the novel with "The Feeling You'll be Rescued." This is the name she gives her emotional state--and it's a great way to start a character-driven novel. Magden establishes the emotional vulnerability of her character right off the bat and makes clear what she wants--to be rescued--which immediately creates a sense of conflict, because any good reader (and Oprah devotee) knows there are no rescuers other than yourself. Soon after The Feeling, Behiye meets Handan, who she labels her hoped-for rescuer, and of course, trouble ensues. One interesting structural element is that Magden threads the discovery of a series of murdered males throughout, via police reports and such, but never directly links our two girls to the dead boys (and in fact, I'm not sure there is a direct link, though it's made clear that there might be). I was happy these weren't dead girls for once, and Magden uses this device to create an incredibly powerful final page that in its cold clinicalness (it's a medical report for analyzing wounds) becomes a devastating metaphor for Behiye's new emtional state.