Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: January 10, 2023
The Wounded Age and Eastern Tales
by Ferit Edgü, translated from the Turkish by Aron Aji
An NYRB Classics OriginalThe Wounded Age begins with a conversation between an unnamed couple, referred to as the Man and the Woman: “I’m leaving soon, he says. / Where, she asks. / East. The mountains.” We are given no names, barely any punctuation, just the barest trail of dialogue set as verse: this is the spare style and austere language of the canonical Turkish author Ferit Edgü, a master of distillation. In the two books paired here and translated into English for the first time, Edgü represents complex social and political realities with startling lyricism and economy. The Wounded Age features a newspaper reporter, assigned to write about ethno-national violence in the mountainous region of eastern Turkey. Like the narrators in Eastern Tales who are teachers and writers from Istanbul, he is a stranger in a region that both confounds and attracts; language in this place, especially his own language, cannot be trusted.
In the unsettled and desperate atmosphere of “the East,” a buried and unspoken history of violence carries over uninterrupted into the present. Each tale of death, dispossession, and exile echoes catastrophes in the past, forming an increasingly resonant ledger of a tragic history. The state’s denial and justification of violence against its ethnic communities—the genocide of the Armenians and massacres of the Greeks and Assyrians in the last century—carries over into its continuing subjugation of the Kurds, and ongoing internecine warfare along the border. In the story “Interview” in Eastern Tales, an old villager tells the narrator, “Make our photograph,” and adds, “send us the pictures. No need to write letters.” The minimal tales Edgu tells are vivid pictures of life in the East—a house in ruins, an empty crib, wolves howling on the hills, human corpses—and transcriptions of living voices. The reporter in The Wounded Age has no illusions that his story will stop the bloodletting; instead, he goes east because he knows he must open his eyes and unstop his ears.
A stark and ferocious love letter to a forgotten people, in a gorgeous translation that is utterly true to the wounded dreamscapes of the original. To read these pages is to be there, swept by mountain snows and the cruel winds of politics, undone by harsh beauty and the endless tragedy unfolding.
Ferit Edgü re-creates the yearning, severity, and timeless cycles of the Eastern Turkish landscape with intense lyricism and masterful sparsity. His unique voice has long been a force in Turkish literature and is translated by Aron Aji with the same haunting vigor