Mahir Ünsal Eriş
All There Is To The World
All There Is To The World is a novel where Mahir Ünsal Eriş stitches the stories of seemingly independent characters together at the most unexpected points, a crowded universe, a panorama of Turkey. Eriş departs from a moment, from the narrowest slice of time, from the story of Güneş who fails to show up for a mid-afternoon snack. Gradually expanding this moment, with the help of new characters, he weaves together sounds, memories, coincidences, vast, green hazelnut gardens, the seaside, wafer-thin, silky lacework, fans, yearning, malice, wasted years, blind wells, the darkness of the moon, treasures and maps; and he tells their story slowly, laughing, chuckling, restless... Masterfully untying the knots he has made one by one, Eriş collects under a single roof this attractive scene of chaos, this heap of narratives spread out across years and different spaces, the crumbs of political and everyday life in Turkey from the 70s to the present day. Thanks to the powers of his pen, he first transforms an aborted mid-afternoon snack into a gigantic universe and then reduces that gigantic universe into a tiny world that fits into our palm.
Without the past, without memories, you were no one. An unimportant being, created only to add one more head to the crowded population of the earth, and then cast aside. Without a name, without an identity, without memories, without beliefs, without joys, without disappointments etched into the lines of your face, without losses. A man made of cardboard. A human dummy.
Could losing your memory after a car accident open the door to the possibility of a brand
new life? Could the eternally everlasting tension between fathers and sons ever settle?
And what do these have to do with the lost Gospel of Barnabas? In The Absentee, Mahir
Ünsal Eriş proceeds to build bridges between the family and the country, memory and
politics. As he touches upon the nature of evil, he discards established tropes. The
betrayal of values is a heavy burden to carry, but isn’t it another type of betrayal to
forget what must be remembered? Perhaps we would be able to find the way if we
clutched our inquisitiveness like a lantern…
Half of Black
There is a street here. A dark street, a long street, a street without trees, full of cars mired in deep sleep. Soon the day will spread its milk-blue cover over the street and the houses will become visible. The day will enter the street from that corner. Lined up like horses waiting for their riders, the cars will wake up one by one, dust themselves off and set out on the road.
Today, a funeral will depart from this street.
In Half of Black, Mahir Ünsal Eriş writes about those who are trapped in small worlds, within inner boundaries they cannot overcome, or the customs of the circles they inhabit. In some stories here, he wanders the narrow streets of small towns and depicts those who are stuck and struggling to get out of small places that do not offer any future whatsoever. In some other stories, he tags along with victims of an accident or fate itself, or the black half of humankind; in other words, those who have been captured by malice, mischief, envy or outright evil. Thus, he recounts light as well as pitch black with his dynamic, ardent style gushing with life, which his readers know very well.
Those who reminisce about those days always call it “Yellowsummer”. Yet it was only a dozen days when the tail end of June abundantly fumed on the brittle earth. But they felt like a whole season, so loaded that they would be remembered for years. And they went down in history as “Yellowsummer”.
Everything began with the southwesterly lodos wind blowing. The wind brought the bright yellow desert sand it picked up from Africa and filled the gulf, and the whole place turned yellow. Everything, every single thing turned so yellow that it felt as if the world was hiding behind a sheet of yellow stained glass.
This strange natural phenomenon that brings anxiety to the local people is followed by an earthquake. However, this earthquake that “struck from the very deep” will then spread in circles, echoing in violent tremors in the lives of the major and minor characters of Yellowsummer.
Yellowsummer is made up of eight interconnected stories revolving around the same event and here, once again, Mahir Ünsal Eriş sheds light on the worlds of supposedly regular people in a small coastal town, acting as interpreter to their loves, disappointments, protests, delusions, heartbreaks and efforts to hold on to life, despite everything... With his usual unfettered, honest yet merciful, life-affirming attitude, lending a voice to the street...
We Were As Beautiful As We Were
You don’t want anyone around you but you keep complaining of loneliness. You need someone even to complain about something. It’s tricky, this.
The literate, the illiterate, lives stuck in the quagmire of poverty, domestic fights, those who leave, those who are left, innocent lives wasted. Or, those who experience otherness at the wedding of a stranger, just as they are trying to forget the lover who turned their lives into a dungeon. Those who have to burn both ends of the candle to grow up, to make a living. Those who chase a ball, those who are preparing their daughter’s dowry... Those who return to the past, to their high-school years after they hitch a ride, dreams disrupted by coincidence. Tea gardens, wedding halls, tiny home interiors, songs and screams echoing on their windows. Bandırma, Erdek, Susurluk, Samsun and streets, streets…
Mahir Ünsal Eriş won the 2014 Sait Faik Short Story Award with his second short story collection We Were As Beautiful As We Were, inscribing his name among the most unique and beloved writers of his generation. His account of the great emotions of small people, his sincere style and infinite sensitivity earned him a broad fanbase of readers. Despite all its finely described melancholy, despair and pain, We Were As Beautiful As We Were is full of the love of life, and is among the unforgettable literary works of Turkey.
Ferdi Blasting Out Of The Speakers At Home
“Unfortunately,” he began his words. That unfortunately hit me inside like a huge drop of ink spilled right in the centre of a white sheet of paper. It was as if a place halfway through my chest had exploded like a tea glass explodes when you pour boiling water into it, and the shards pierced my lungs...
The first edition of Ferdi Blasting Out Of The Speakers At Home, Mahir Ünsal Eriş’s first book, came out in 2012. It displays a competence rare in a first book, and also a dazzling diversity in terms of both its subject matter and characters. The short stories in the book recount the wound of life from the viewpoint of a child, the despair of an adult, the burning relationships of adolescents and the great expectations that do not fit in small worlds. Youngsters hungry for life in a coastal city, hopes extinguished in a melee, lives scattered about by concidences, the trials and tribulations of growing up and great family tragedies in small towns are all taken up in these poignant and startling short stories.
Mahir Ünsal Eriş treats the everyday troubles of the people of Turkey from a mature and sensitive viewpoint. His unique sense of humour also comes into play to act as interpreter for all shades of the human condition. In brief, he proves that he is among those writers who prove their mastery with their first book.
The Otherworldlies is a novel about those guests who make us lose our sleep in the most unseemly hours of the night, who make the stairs creak as they climb them and who rummage through the cupboard of wire gauze in the pantry.
As he tells us the chilling events that took place at 57 Numero, Mahir Ünsal Eriş takes us off the intercity coach shaking and jerking along Menderes’s macadam road and invites us into a checkered Impala softly springing on the asphalt. With Mount Hasan on our left, we meet the navy blue of the sea once we arrive in Haydarpaşa.
A melancholic novel that also makes us smile, The Otherworldlies reminds us of Turkey in the 60s, of neighbourhood relations, military coups, migration, ambition, roads and most importantly, the Otherworldlies that could never return, and is accompanied by the illustrations of world-famous illustrator M. K. Perker.
Rattling sounds in the night, those who lose their sleep, those who cannot sleep either because of anxiety or excitement, elderly people labouring after something or other in attics, kindhearted small town youth, neighbourhood old-timers, ambitious female students and revolutionary dreams...
Making you both cry and laugh out loud, The Others is the novel of Sacide and Cahide, Hayganuş and Mr. Artin, Kamuran and the ‘others’ who join the story right in the middle, all brought together by the life in an old mansion in an Istanbul neighbourhood that keeps to itself in 1970s’ Turkey, and is accompanied by the illustrations of world-famous illustrator M. K. Perker.