cover image The Trojan War Museum: And Other Stories

The Trojan War Museum: And Other Stories

Ayse Papatya Bucak. Norton, $24.95 (216p) ISBN 978-1-324-00297-0

The 10 stories in Bucak’s beguiling debut play with traditional narrative forms and explore the author’s Turkish roots. In “The History of Girls,” told in the plural “we,” a group of girls trapped in the rubble of a school explosion from a blown gas line are visited by the ghosts of their dead classmates. “An Ottoman Arabesque” tells the story of 19th-century Ottoman ambassador Khalil Bey via observations on his assortment of erotic artwork, while the collection’s title story spans centuries as Apollo wanders the Earth, visiting different Trojan War museums and ruminating on the traumas of battle. In “Mysteries of the Mountain South,” the story of a recent college grad caring for her dying grandmother is enhanced with the epistolary elements of blog posts. “A Cautionary Tale” breaks the fourth wall, telling the story of a Turkish wrestler and then using the story to interrogate an unnamed character on the story’s validity. “The Dead,” about a sponge magnate’s encounter with a survivor of the Armenian genocide, includes birth and death dates for each major character. The author astutely deploys a range of styles and techniques that create a cerebral, multifarious collection. Bucak’s remarkable, inventive, and humane debut marks her as a writer to watch. (Aug.)