Additional Book Information
Series: Notting Hill Editions
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
From Notting Hill Editions
by John Berger, drawings by Selçuk Demirel
This charming illustrated work reflects on the cultural implications of smoking and suggests, through a series of brilliantly inventive illustrations, that society’s attitude toward smoke is both paradoxical and intolerant. It portrays a world in which smokers, banished from public places, must encounter one another as outlaws. Meanwhile, car exhaust and factory chimneys continue to pollute the atmosphere. Smoke is a beautifully illustrated prose poem that lingers in the mind.
As John Berger has said, “A cigarette is a breathing space. It makes a parenthesis. The time of a cigarette is a parenthesis, and if it is shared you are both in that parenthesis. It’s like a proscenium arch for a dialogue.”
Click to enlarge images
The late storyteller John Berger and the illustrator Selçuk Demirel reframe the demonised smoker as the collector of afterthoughts, observations and companions—someone who invests time in human desires... An ode to imperfection, Smoke turns atomising rhetoric on its head through rugged playful sketches and aphorisms.
In these pages, Demirel rather brilliantly provides images of togetherness that make literal Berger’s language, albeit without sentimentalizing it; these pictures recall a world that once had coherent meaning...Berger and Demirel show that nearly anything can be part of shared experience...Smoke, [Berger] concludes, is a 'sign of mankind'—evidence not of man’s endurance but of the promise of companionship and stories shared.
—Jonathon Sturgeon, Art in America
In contemporary English letters John Berger seems to me peerless. Not since D. H. Lawrence has there been a writer who offers such attentiveness to the sensual world with responsiveness to the imperatives of conscience.
In his ceaselessly inventive work, Selçuk often uses parts of the body in ways that are characteristically Turkish...as if the comedy of the human condition were there in the human body, in the melancholy of anatomy.
—John Berger, on Selçuk Demirel