Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Bridge of the Golden Horn by Emine Sevgi Ozdamar translated by Martin Chalmers

I always appreciate finding Turkish women writers who have been translated into English, and this novel was particularly interesting in that it followed a young Turkish woman who, during the revolutionary 60s, traveled to Germany as a guest worker and then back again (I recently discovered that there and back again novels are a whole thing that people talk about, which was useful since I'm working on what is apparently a there and back again novel myself--different than my big house novel, in case you're wondering). Anyway I was interested to know that women did this on their own--for no good reason, I always thought of men as leading the way in the guest worker system.

What struck me while reading the book is that there is a distinct difference between a fast-paced novel and a fast-paced voice in a novel. A fast-paced novel, one that moves quickly through events and pages, tends to include a lot of scene--dialogue and action. It shows a lot, tells less. On the other hand, a fast-paced voice can actually, and possibly usually, be within a quite slow-paced novel. This is because a fast-paced voice is created by long sentences that don't pause for breath and is much more summary than scene. It's an interesting sensation to be carried along by a hyperactive narrator through a fairly dense book. It makes the book feel less dense, less slow than it actually is, but also occasionally feels like bicycling up a steep hill (you know, you feel like your feet are moving fast but your bike is moving slow).


margaret said...

I like the metaphor of bicycling up a hill.

david miranda said...


May I have your permission to post your beautiful nonfiction short story "I Cannot Explain My Fear" to my noncommercial website @

I found it here:

Or maybe you have another nonfiction piece that you'd like me to post?

I'll provide a link to your blog and to the story link above of course.