Walking on the Ceiling

Penguin. Apr. 2019. 224p. ISBN 9780525537410. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780525537434. F
OrangeReviewStarDEBUT This exquisite first novel is written in the voice of a young Turkish woman by Istanbul-born, Paris-based Savas. It has the feel of memoir, but with a postmodern, meta quality in its meditation on the possibilities of narrative. The protagonist is an aspiring writer who studies in London, returns to Istanbul to care for her ailing, neurotic mother, befriends a famed British writer while living in Paris, then finally returns to Istanbul to live. The strands of her life are revealed in the way memories present themselves: not chronologically but in isolated, wistfully rendered scenes. She frets that the stories she tells college roommates, the famous author, even her mother, are dishonest, their truth slipping into fiction. The beautifully written result examines the futility of capturing a story, of how we inevitably deceive when we tell the story of ourselves. Countering this idea is the need to document the beauty of the places the author has seen—a Paris bistro's striped light, old neighborhoods lost as Istanbul modernizes—and she worries that all trace of those places will disappear unless they are recorded.
VERDICT A poetic yet intellectual novel; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 1015/18.]
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