Amsterdam follows a day in the life of a hero with no name, a man who has no purpose left other than writing his novel. That morning he wakes up lost and confused. He finds himself in his hotel room in Amsterdam, where he will be attending his ex-girlfriend’s wedding. He remembers spending the night with the Black Girl, but he finds neither hide nor hair of her. Incapable of finding inner calm, he leaves into the snowy streets of Amsterdam. On his journey into the night, he meets an assortment of characters: an Afghan taxi driver takes him to the urban slums, a widowed magician pulls out a rabbit out of his hat, a drug dealer offers him a magical green drink. His attempt to find the Black Girl turns into a reverie, in which he goes back and forth between İstanbul and Amsterdam, Athens and Cyprus, and faces his doppelgänger.
Başar Başaran’s debut novel, Amsterdam, is an intricately woven story of Turkey's centuries-old identity crisis. The reflective narrator encapsulates the zeitgeist of his generation, who not only remain stuck halfway, but also has abandoned some of the richness of older heritage. With its partial use of a stream-of-consciousness, Amsterdam displays the writer’s painful doubts about the East-West divide, about the toxic model of masculinity prevailing in his own culture, about the struggles of living while shifting farther to the West, yet clinging also to the East. Around the theme, which has been famously treated by Tanpınar, Pamuk, and Shafak, Amsterdam masterfully mirrors the realities of Turkey, and presents a meticulously drawn inner portrait of contemporary human beings.