Hah by Birgul Oguz
|Hah by Birgul Oguz|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Kate Jones|
|Summary: This is a complex, multi-layered set of connected short stories written in novel form, which, though interestingly devised, was a little too intertextually written for me.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 128||Date: March 2016|
|Publisher: World Editions|
I was interested to receive this book for review as I knew it was written in a modern, interesting style, being effectively a collection of short stories, but appearing more in a novel structure. I was, however, rather disappointed with the book. Whilst it does have some very fine examples of prose writing within the stories, I felt disconnected from the narrator, who is the daughter of a recently deceased man who was involved in a Turkish military coup in 1980. There is, therefore, a lot of examples of the narrator relating the conversations they had shared regarding revolution, and the way this had affected the daughter's upbringing and childhood. Another 'story' then delves into a seemingly disconnected wander through the town, whereby we see the narrator working at gutting fish, and talking about a man she finds repulsive, but who appears to be in love with her.
Although I expected this book to be written in an unconventional, literary style, I found it much more intertextual than I would have liked, and therefore quite difficult to follow. You can get lost in the poetic phrases describing the narrator's grief and memories of her father, Wish I could just dig myself a tall-sad hole, slip inside and fall asleep. And, sleeping, turn into solitude. Far away. But for me, the complex structure of the book meant that I couldn't quite connect with the narrator or her life. If you enjoy reading a book for the poetic language alone, you may have a different response to this book.
It could be that the translation from its original Turkish makes the book less coherent, as the narrative draws on many other, older texts, including those originally written in Turkish, and this could be reflected in the fact that there were so many translators involved in its translation into English. It feels that the author is deliberately giving us a discourse on individual grief, as well as collective grief, by utilising various different literary techniques. It is like an experiment in the use of various literary devices, something you may study on an MA in Literature, and some readers may enjoy this element. For me, I felt it distanced me from the narrator, and felt just a little too abstract.
If you enjoyed this, you might like: Vertigo by Joanna Walsh. You might like to look at A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind by Christien Gholson, although our reviewer wasn't too impressed but Unthology: No. 3 by Robin Jones and Ashley Stokes (Editors) was rather better. You might like The Shifting Pools by Zoe Duncan, but we were not entirely convinced.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Hah by Birgul Oguz at Amazon.com.
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