cover image I Will Never See the World Again: The Memoir of an Imprisoned Writer

I Will Never See the World Again: The Memoir of an Imprisoned Writer

Ahmet Altan, trans. from the Turkish by Yasemin Congar. Other Press, $15.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-59051-992-9

A Turkish political prisoner opposes his imagination to the grim reality of oppression in this sometimes harrowing, sometimes luminous memoir. After the failed 2016 coup attempt by members of the Turkish military, novelist Altan (Endgame) was arrested along with his brother Mehmet by President Recep Erdogan’s government and prosecuted for sending “subliminal messages” to coup plotters on a TV show, being a “religious putschist,” and being a “Marxist terrorist,” and was sentenced to life in prison. (His real offense was criticizing the government.) In these essays, Altan vividly evokes the Kafkaesque farce of court proceedings; prison squalor and claustrophobia; the dehumanizing routines of handcuffs, lineups, and confiscations that “carved us out of life like a rotten, maggot-laced chunk from a pear;” a future of heartbreaking constraint in which “I will never see a sky unframed by the walls of a courtyard.” But he’s also buoyed by small kindnesses, the hope of seeing loved ones, a cellmate who refuses police demands to denounce others, and writerly reveries that let him “pass through your walls with ease.” Intertwining gritty detail with lyrical effusion, Altan’s narrative is a searing indictment of Turkey’s authoritarian regime and an inspiring testament to human resilience. (Oct.)