cover image Disquiet


Zülfü Livaneli, trans. from the Turkish by Brendan Freely. Other Press, $14.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-6354-203-26

Livaneli (Serenade for Nadia) delivers a keenly wrought story of the oppressive violence the Ezidi, aka Yazidi, people face at the hands of ISIS. The story is told by a young Turkish journalist named Ibrahim working in Istanbul, whose frantic narration is interlaced with monologues from his contacts who share their life stories. When Ibrahim gets news that his childhood friend, Hussein, has been killed in Germany, he travels to their hometown of Mardin, where Hussein had spent time before leaving for Europe, to investigate. While there, he learns Hussein dedicated his life to volunteering at the local refugee camp for those from Syria fleeing ISIS (his last words were “I was a human being”). Hussein’s distraught family tells Ibrahim of a “she-devil” Ezidi woman, Meleknaz, whom Hussein had fallen in love with and who they believe was involved in his death. Ever the journalist, Ibrahim sets out to learn the truth about the Ezidi people (who are widely seen by outsiders as being Satan worshippers) and who Meleknaz really is and where she’s gone. Though the translation often feels prosaic, the story’s urgency comes through in its tight grasp on the problems of religious violence, misogyny, and the failures of compassion. The result is a memorable illumination of the Ezidi people’s rich history. (June)