THE TURKISH LOVER

Esmeralda Santiago, Author
Esmeralda Santiago, Author . Da Capo $25 (341p) ISBN 978-0-7382-0820-6
Paperback - 347 pages - 978-0-306-81451-8
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"I will teach you everything," says Santiago's lover, the Turkish filmmaker Ulvi Dogan. "But you must listen to what I say." Thus begins the deftly understated saga of an intense, abusive relationship in Santiago's third memoir. When I Was Puerto Rican (1993) and Almost a Woman (1998) examined Santiago's Puerto Rican childhood, her adolescence in New York and her emerging acting career, when Dogan spots her in a phone booth and offers her an audition. Santiago revisits their seven-year relationship with uncommon candor and directness. Dogan controls Santiago's every moment, yet Santiago believes he "was gentle and understanding" of why she couldn't always obey him. In their nomadic lives (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; New York; Syracuse, N.Y.; Lubbock, Tex.), they make up and break up as Santiago devotes herself to Dogan's graduate studies and career. But when a traffic jam unexpectedly delivers them to Harvard Square, Santiago blurts out, "I belong here." So it happens that at 25, she enters Harvard. It's the beginning of the end with a man who "might love me, as he claimed, but he had no idea, no clue whatsoever, of what was important to me." Although there's nothing here to delight readers seeking a vicarious dip into another culture (which When I Was Puerto Rican provided), Santiago's latest will grow on readers. Her slow self-realization is deeply human. Agent, Molly Friedrich. (Sept. 1)

Forecast: Santiago is an enormously popular author with a proven track record, and reading groups are sure to gravitate to this. She'll go on an eight-city author tour, stopping at the Miami Book Fair; and will be profiled in Latina and on NPR.

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