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Murders by Unknown Assailants and Detective Novels - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote

A large part of The Black Book consists of columns ostensibly printed in Milliyet, one of Turkey’s most important newspapers. In the novel they are presented as pieces written by a character who is a journalist. They appear at regular intervals, interrupting the novel’s straight narrative, and because they determine the shape of The Black Book, they caused me a great deal of difficulty. Because I was having such a good time writing in the voice of a columnist, balancing fake erudition with a subtle buffoonery, the columns kept getting longer, dominating the book in a way that destroyed the balance and composition of the whole. Even today, when readers say to me, “I read The Black Book; the columns are wonderful,” I am at the same time pleased and also troubled.

Those who have read the book in translation are the ones who say this most often. The Western reader is entranced by the strangeness and facile narration of the columnists I parody, who belong to a tradition that stretches beyond Turkey to include many other countries living within the same cultural contradictions. They are a dying breed, but we can still find echoes of them in columnists I parody, who belong to a tradition that stretches beyond Turkey to include many other countries living within the same cultural contradictions. They are a dying breed, but we can still find echoes of them in columnists writing in Turkey today.

In Turkey a real columnist will write four or five times a week. He will take his subjects from every aspect of life, geography, and history. He will deploy every narrative shape and strategy, whether drawing upon the most mundane daily news or philosophy or memoir or sociological observation.

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