In the Shadow of the Yali

(Author) (Translator)
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Other Press (NY)
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5.3 X 7.9 X 1.0 inches | 0.85 pounds

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About the Author

Suat Derviş (Istanbul, 1905-1972) is one of the leading female authors of Turkish literature. She was educated in Germany, where she wrote articles for newspapers and journals. After the rise of fascism, she returned to Turkey in 1932. She became renowned for her novels, which were serialized in Turkish newspapers and often centered around the tragic lives of lost, lonely, and struggling people in urban Turkey. In 1941 she began publishing Yeni Edebiyat ("New Literature"), a biweekly magazine on art and literature. A dedicated socialist, she was placed under house arrest for a short period of time following the publication of her book Why Do I Admire Soviet Russia. After her release, and a change of government in Turkey, she voluntarily exiled herself from 1953 to 1963. With the publication of The Prisoner of Ankara in 1957, she became the first female Turkish author to publish a novel in Europe. The novel received critical acclaim from Le Monde and the literary periodical Les Lettres Françaises, and was published in Turkish eleven years later.

Maureen Freely is the author of seven novels, and a former journalist who focused on literature, social justice, and human rights. Well known as a translator of Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, she has brought into English several Turkish classics as well as newer work by Turkey's rising stars. As chair of the Translator's Association and more recently as president and chair of English PEN, she has campaigned for writers and freedom of expression internationally. She teaches at the University of Warwick.


"The Madame Bovary of Turkish literature...Although the story is, in many ways, universal, Dervis brilliantly captures the particularities of Turkish society and its struggle with modernity. This rare gem is finally available in English thanks to Maureen Freely's masterful translation." --The Guardian, Top 10 Novels about Turkey

"In the Shadow of the Yalı is a rare gem--a romantic character study, a social novel, and a feminist critique on patriarchy and capitalism. Suat Derviş explores the depths of social conditioning, the emptiness of chasing wealth, and the freedoms--imagined or actual--provided by lust and desire." --Ilana Masad, author of All My Mother's Lovers

"Evoking the tumultuous fledgling years of the Turkish Republic as it rises from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, In the Shadow of the Yalı is an enthralling and troubling novel about desire, possession, and illicit love. Suat Derviş delivers a powerful feminist rebuke of patriarchal society that thrums with passion right up to the surprising and challenging climax of this romantic and tragic work." --Alan Drew, author of Gardens of Water

"In this extraordinary novel, Suat Derviş gives us the awakening of Celile, a young woman who discovers both the potency of her desire and the men who want to harness that guileless joy for their own ends. Her extreme innocence allows her a full-hearted and wide-eyed view of the events she is driving by her own actions, even as they threaten to destroy her. Steamy, gothic, and deeply insightful about the tangled motivations of financial greed and romantic love, as well as the vastly divergent life options for women and men in mid-twentieth-century Turkey, I read this novel in one big gulp." --Lucy Jane Bledsoe, author of Lava Falls and A Thin Bright Line

"Suat Derviş is an important novelist. She suffered a great deal for her political views, and her works were suppressed...In the Shadow of the Yalı is a work of beauty. A painful love story. A novel that examines love from a Marxist perspective. In my opinion, it has no equal in our literature." --Selim İleri, Orhan Kemal Novel Prize-winning author of Boundless Solitude

"The most remarkable thing about this deviously moving novel is the apparent absence of politics in a tale told by a committed and persecuted socialist. it. Suat Derviş, who lived through the fall and rise of elites from empire to republic, obviously did not need Foucault to figure out that there is no escape from social conflict and games of power, even in an affair flavored by tango and cologne. The translation brilliantly succeeds in staying true to the baroque romanticism of the Turkish original." --Cemal Kafadar, Vehbi Koç Professor of Turkish Studies, Harvard University

"This feminist novel takes the reader into the world of the granddaughter of a Circassian slave who was born into privilege, lost everything, married a greedy, ambitious man, fell in love with a tycoon, and lost everything again. Suat Derviş paints a vivid portrait of the new rich during the early days of the Turkish Republic still in the shadow of its Ottoman past." --Miriam Cooke, Braxton Craven Professor of Arab Cultures, Duke University

"A mesmerizing tale of obsession and a woman's journey to self-knowledge by one of the most influential feminist writers in the early Turkish Republic. Trapped between the old values of the Ottoman elite with which she was raised and those of the rich Republican businessmen that surround her, she struggles to live life on her own terms. But even in this time of profound social change, what has not changed is men's control over women's fate." --Jenny White, Professor at Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies and author of Turkish Kaleidoscope: Fractured Lives in a Time of Violence

"A captivating tale of a passionate affair with unexpected consequences. The twists and turns of the unfolding narrative keeps you reading to the end--which happens at a most unexpected point." --Afsaneh Najmabadi, Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Harvard University

"It is a fine thing to have a novel of Suat Derviş's available for English-speaking audiences. At last this important voice from the Turkish Republic's early years--a feminist voice, a leftist voice--can be appreciated by a wider public. The novel lays bare the personal struggles and conflicts confronting women in this period, when the 'modern woman' was officially embraced, but expectations around sexual morality remained strong and fundamentally patriarchal. In this new landscape, Derviş shows us, men and women cannot really understand each other. This graceful translation offers readers a window on a crucial historical moment and access to a moving reflection on the possibility (or impossibility) and peril of female agency." --Holly Shissler, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern History, University of Chicago, and author of Between Two Empires: Ahmet Ağaoğlu and the New Turkey

"In the Shadow of the Yalı evokes the torments of a woman dreaming of freedom but trapped by her own past, the expectations of men, and the harsh judgments of society. Divided by historical rupture, her story conveys both the promise and the devastation of the twentieth century in the Turkish republic and beyond. This novel deserves a wide readership for its richly portrayed characters and evocative writing, skillfully translated by Maureen Freely. Scholars and students of global feminisms and the history of the modern Middle East will also find much to discuss here." --Claire Roosien, Assistant Professor, Providence College Department of History and Classics

"It is high time for the Anglophone literary world to meet the work of Suat Derviş, a remarkable woman writer from Turkey whose works appeared in French and Russian translation during the 1950s. Persecuted by the Turkish state in the mid-1940s for her socialist activism, Derviş earned a living by composing serialized romances for the Istanbul dailies. Narrating the gripping story of a passionate heroine who is willing to risk everything in the name of love, In the Shadow of the Yalı also tells a deeper story about Derviş's decision to pursue a life of activism at the expense of her social relationships and privileges as an elite woman. Derviş's work has embodied hope, integrity, and fortitude for several generations of women from Turkey. It is a gift to readers and students of world literature that she can now be read in English alongside other writers of her generation, from Jean Rhys to Tillie Olsen." --Nergis Ertürk, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Pennsylvania State University

"This book puts a Turkish spin on the triangular nature of desire theorized by René Girard in Deceit, Desire and the Novel which focuses on the French and Russian novelistic traditions of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. This novel tells a story of seduction by love both pitted against and intertwining with a story of seduction by money and power in the rising capitalism of the Second World War years in Turkey. The female protagonist, Celile, is seduced by Muhsin's love while her middle-class husband, Ahmet, magnetized by Muhsin's aristocratic wealth and industrial success, relentlessly pursues Muhsin to get him to underwrite his racketeering deals. As in Girard's schema, these respective seductions are fueled by misconceptions and misreadings by all three, of each other's motives and characters because each protagonist has a different frame of reference, and a different definition of 'value.' The economic and psychological investigations of the novel are foregrounded on the belated awakening of Celile to, first who she is as a woman, followed by an awakening to how she's defined and viewed by society. This double-epiphany reminds me of similarly tragic American heroines who realize too late that their upbringing as women of a specific class prevented them from turning their individual awakening to real personal agency in society, such as Edna Pontellier of Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening or the eponymous heroine of Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell. In the Shadow of the Yalı, now available in English in Maureen Freely's masterful translation, adds Celile to this literary sisterhood while capturing the particularities of Turkish society and providing a comparative perspective." --Sibel Erol, Clinical Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, New York University

"Suat Derviş is the voice of lonely and hopelessly in love women everywhere. In the Shadow of the Yalı is the thought-provoking and insightful story of Celile, a lonely woman who grows up in an abandoned mansion and one day leaves it for what seems to be a perfect marriage. Derviş analyzes the mind of the young woman as she battles with an even lonelier marriage and the moral values of her society as she begins to fall for an ambitious and shallow forbidden lover. Celile's decision to follow what she thinks is the love of her life only leads her to more anguish, desperation, and solitude. While unraveling Celile's lack of attempts to take control of her life, Derviş also vividly portrays the society of 1940s Istanbul, as well as the new wealthy war profiteers. With Maureen Freely's well-executed and masterful translation, readers will quickly find themselves captured by the plot, character depth, and literary style of this fast-moving and engrossing novel!" --Özgen Felek, Lector of Ottoman and Modern Turkish, Yale University

"Suat Derviş--a feminist writer of solitude and freedom--shows how a couple speaking the language of desire slowly faces the dark sides of their relationship. With the escalation of Celile's self-discovery of her position as an intermediary between her husband Ahmet and lover Muhsin, we as readers are invited to the heights of the psychological thrills of love with no calculations. With Celile, Suat Derviş spotlights how women's emancipation became a political impasse in the cultural modernization of the post-Ottoman household." --Çimen Günay-Erkol, Assistant Professor, Özyeğin University