Reckless – Hasan Ali Toptas

This book was sent to me by Bloomsbury India in exchange of an honest review

This was another unexpected entrant into my bookish universe courtesy of Bloomsbury, this time from Turkey. Why have I never before even tried to read literature that comes from some place other than Britain, America and India? Revelations galore!

This is the story of Ziya, an ex-army man who decides to leave the city for a quiet village life. That it does not answer is not really a surprise. Ziya lost his wife and their unborn child and was badly scarred in an explosion sixteen years ago and is consequently a troubled man. Kenan was his friend in the army, almost 30 years ago. His stories of his beautiful village were what made Ziya choose it as a refuge in a bid to find peace.

The first two chapters were little more than confused blurs to me. In the first chapter, Ziya is returning the key of his apartment to his landlady and she just begins to talk on and on about her life history and that of other people, while pigeons keep crashing into the windows and smoke seems to gather before his very eyes. The second chapter was a little better. Here Ziya is a little boy, who along with his friends goes out to hunt birds with his catapult. He manages to kill one and is so traumatized that he keeps seeing the bird everywhere and then attends a marriage next door. Random! Only by page 100 did the author suddenly provide some explanation for what occurred in the previous pages.

Chapter 3 is where the story begins to take a normal turn towards storytelling, although the author seems unable to let go of his propensity of adding metaphors in every second line. The slow and overly metaphorical first two chapters put paid to my enthusiasm for the story. Even though the story seemed to get interesting after 100 pages, I was unable to truly enjoy it.

If one is forewarned then I suppose it will be possible to like the book. I was simply exhausted by the time the real story began and failed to regain anything greater than a passing interest in the work. The climax is one of those tragic and cruel ones that I absolutely detest and am doomed to now dream about for a week at least. The angst and the tragedy of Ziya is clear and definitely very competently laid out, but makes for heavy reading.

Also, this is another translated work and made me wonder whether the metaphors/similes that the author used constantly would have appeared less floral and more relatable in the original text.

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