Ali and Ramazan by Perihan Magden (April 3, 2012)

The author of this book is a journalist (and novelist) who won Turkey’s Grand Award for Freedom of Speech.  Given that, and the pre-pub review on it, I figured this would be a powerful book to purchase for my library — one that might push the boundaries.  It is indeed a powerful book, as it tells the story of an obscure pair of orphan boys who led  lives rather horrifying to contemplate.  And it pushes the boundaries in describing child abuse, drug use, and male prostitution.  It is fictionalized, but based on actual events that were reported in a Turkish newspaper.  It’s an important book to read.  And I suspect that Magden is an important author to follow.  I know this because I just got hold of an advance reader’s copy of a new English translation of her 2007 novel, Escape.  In reading the first chapter, I am drawn in, and the language brings out a quality that peeked through in Ali & Ramazan, but fell flat and awkward in many instances: a poetry.  I had an inkling of the reason why when reading Ali & Ramazan — I thought the translation might be choppy.  But without reading Turkish, how was I to know it was the translation, and not Magden’s writing?  Escape has a different translator — and the poetry of the prose flows.  So my verdict?  I would read Ali & Ramazan, for the story.  And then I would anticipate picking up Escape when it is released September 11th (I’ll be reviewing it in August), for both the story and the writing.

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About Cheryl McNeil
I am the User Services Librarian at the Orangeburg Library in Orangeburg, NY

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