cover image Lady Life

Lady Life

Ahmet Altan, trans. from the Turkish by Yasemin Çongar. Other Press, $17.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-63542-288-7

Altan, who chronicled his political imprisonment in Turkey in the memoir I Will Never See the World Again, wrote this playful coming-of-age before his 2021 release, set in an unnamed country that resembles his own. A university student named Fazil faces dim prospects after his father’s farm fails due to an embargo. He rents a room in a boardinghouse, lives on cheese and bread, and meets the building’s motley tenants—one man sells handbags during the day and works as an escort at night, another recently shot his cousin. He earns money as an extra on a TV show, enamored by the middle-aged actor Hayat Hanim as he watches her dance. Hayat’s attitude toward life is carefree and reckless, which under the country’s unsettled political circumstances both alarms Fazil and intrigues him. Fazil also meets Sila, a girl his age and a fellow student of literature whose family has also lost everything, and the two begin dating, though he remains enamored of Hayat. Fazil’s uncertainty over which path to take in his life—one of books and ideas, or one of carefree passion—stands as an intriguing metaphor for the country’s dwindling prospects. There’s plenty to chew on in this lighthearted romp. (Mar.)