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Tag: Selcuk Altun

In the Mail: In Translation Edition

–> Many and Many A Year Ago by Selcuk Altun

Publishers Weekly

Altun’s second novel to be made available in the U.S. has a premise almost as intriguing as his first, Songs My Mother Never Taught Me, but the execution is less successful. Kemal Kuray’s meteoric ascent to the top of the Turkish Air Force comes to an abrupt end after the engine of the plane he’s piloting fails. Barely escaping serious injury, he’s assigned to coordinate a secret translation project, during which he befriends Suat Altan, a technology consultant working on the project to complete his military service. Later, Kemal learns from Suat’s identical twin, Fuat, that Suat, who’s vanished, has left behind a cryptic note for Kemal and arranged for monthly payments to him of $5,000 a month after his retirement. Kemal spends the rest of the book seeking the purpose, as well as the true meaning, of Suat’s message. If Poe’s fans are meant to be enticed by the title, taken from Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee,” they will find little to chew on.

–> The Last Supper by Pawel Huelle

Library Journal

Twelve men make their way to a theater to pose for a photo to be used as the basis for a new painting of The Last Supper. This pastiche is set in the near future in Gdansk, Poland, paralyzed by terrorist attacks during the 19th-century travels of a painter and in much earlier times in real and imaginary Middle Eastern locales. A few problems prevent this book from being a near masterpiece: the irony is laid on too thick, and pages 99–100 contain a terrible spoiler. It’s like revealing “whodunit” right in the middle of a mystery, so readers should be strongly advised to skip those pages, which take a little power out of an otherwise spectacular final chapter. VERDICT Huelle addresses some of the same issues found in Nikos Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ or Christopher Moore’s Lamb but in a very different way, yet fans of those authors might enjoy this book. The ultimate ironic act would be to use The Last Supper as a Christmas present.

In the Mail: In Translation Edition

–> Many and Many A Year Ago by Selcuk Altun

Publishers Weekly

Altun’s second novel to be made available in the U.S. has a premise almost as intriguing as his first, Songs My Mother Never Taught Me, but the execution is less successful. Kemal Kuray’s meteoric ascent to the top of the Turkish Air Force comes to an abrupt end after the engine of the plane he’s piloting fails. Barely escaping serious injury, he’s assigned to coordinate a secret translation project, during which he befriends Suat Altan, a technology consultant working on the project to complete his military service. Later, Kemal learns from Suat’s identical twin, Fuat, that Suat, who’s vanished, has left behind a cryptic note for Kemal and arranged for monthly payments to him of $5,000 a month after his retirement. Kemal spends the rest of the book seeking the purpose, as well as the true meaning, of Suat’s message. If Poe’s fans are meant to be enticed by the title, taken from Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee,” they will find little to chew on.

–> The Last Supper by Pawel Huelle

Library Journal

Twelve men make their way to a theater to pose for a photo to be used as the basis for a new painting of The Last Supper. This pastiche is set in the near future in Gdansk, Poland, paralyzed by terrorist attacks during the 19th-century travels of a painter and in much earlier times in real and imaginary Middle Eastern locales. A few problems prevent this book from being a near masterpiece: the irony is laid on too thick, and pages 99–100 contain a terrible spoiler. It’s like revealing “whodunit” right in the middle of a mystery, so readers should be strongly advised to skip those pages, which take a little power out of an otherwise spectacular final chapter. VERDICT Huelle addresses some of the same issues found in Nikos Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ or Christopher Moore’s Lamb but in a very different way, yet fans of those authors might enjoy this book. The ultimate ironic act would be to use The Last Supper as a Christmas present.

Songs My Mother Never Taught Me by Selcuk Altun

As I have been reading thrillers lately I thought it might be worthwhile to throw in some with an international flavor.  So I added Selcuk Altun’s Songs My Mother Never Taught Me to the reading list.  It turned out to be an interesting reading experience, but hard to get a handle on.

The simple plot belies the novels complexity, but here is Booklist’s quick take:

Songs My Mother Never Taught Me

Songs My Mother Never Taught Me (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This latest Turkish import, set in Istanbul, is written entirely in the first person, from the points of view of the two main characters, Arda, a child of privilege and a smothering mother, and Bedirhan, an orphan turned assassin. The reader is rapidly drawn into the innermost thoughts and feelings of both characters, as Arda decides how to live his life after the death of his mother, and Bedirhan vows to get out of the assassin business. The tension is gradually ratcheted up as Arda discovers his father was assassinated and sets out to hunt for the killer, even as the reader learns of the strangely intertwined lives of Arda and Bedirhan.

You could easily imagine a typical thriller with this setup. Alternating first person chapters leading the reader on a quest to figure out how these two characters are connected and racing to find the conclusion/resolution.

But the novel never had that thriller feel for me.

In the Mail

–> Cham by Jonathan Trigell

Description

Long-dead Lord Byron started it. The rock star of his age. But a poet with about as much relevance to the blood grudge struggle that marks modern life for most of humanity, as he has to the practice of sliding down snowy slopes on planks of wood. And yet, it was thanks to Byron that Itchy ended up living in Chamonix Mont Blanc, the death-sport capital of the world, among the high mountains and low morals.In the intervening years he has tried hard with alcohol and adrenaline to numb a past he can’t atone for. Now a serial rapist is stalking Cham’s tourist-thronged streets, haunting the same shadows as Itchy and triggering an obsession which will lead him far from Europe’s zenith, to the depths of the valley and himself.The promise of Jonathan Trigell’s first novel, “Boy A“, is fully realised in this evocation of the world of extreme sports, where the reckless violence of a callow man’s life comes back to haunt him.

–> Songs My Mother Never Taught Me by Selcuk Altun

Description

After the death of his overbearing mother, the privileged Arda reclines in his wealth, reflecting on his young life and on the life of his father, the famous mathematician Mürsel Ergenekon, who was murdered on Arda’s fourteenth birthday. While on the other side of the city, “your humble servant” Bedirhan has decided to pack in his ten-year career as an assassin.

Their two lives become intrinsically bound in this remarkable thriller that takes us through the streets of Istanbul. We learn that Bedirhan in fact killed Arda’s father, and that they share more in common than he or we could imagine.

Meanwhile, Selçuk Altun, a former family friend, is playing a deadly game, providing Arda with clues to track down his father’s killer.

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