Every Fire You Tend
By Sema Kaygusuz
You traced the shape of shame with your body, concealing that feeling as it pulled you into its centre. You were seeking a language for yourself, a language inherited from no one and akin to no one else’s, a language of figs…
In 1938, in the remote Dersim region of Eastern Anatolia, the Turkish Republic launched an operation to erase an entire community of Zaza-speaking Alevi Kurds. Inspired by those brutal events, and the survival of Kaygusuz’s own grandmother, this densely lyrical and allusive novel grapples with the various inheritances of genocide, gendered violence and historical memory as they reverberate across time and place from within the unnamed protagonist’s home in contemporary Istanbul.
Kaygusuz imagines a narrative anchored by the weight of anguish and silence, fuelled by mysticism, wisdom and beauty. This is a powerful exploration of a still-taboo subject, deeply significant to the fault lines of modern-day Turkey.