08 Jul / Disquiet by Zülfü Livaneli, translated by Brendan Freely [in Shelf Awareness]
Former UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Zülfü Livaneli’s startling Disquiet requires multi-layered engagement: to appreciate it as a penetrating novel about a Turkish family confronting murder and to acknowledge it as intense sociopolitical testimony of contemporary, too-little-known, ISIL-led (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) genocide of the Yezidi people.
While sitting in a daily editorial meeting, Istanbul journalist Ibrahim realizes the Turkish victim of a fatal stabbing in Germany by neo-Nazis is his childhood friend Hussein. When Ibrahim returns to their hometown for the funeral, Hussein’s mother repeats her dead son’s last words to her: “‘You can’t protect me any longer, Mother, not even if you took me and put me back in your womb!'” Then Hussein’s older brother reveals Hussein’s final utterance two months later, “I was a human being.” Hussein’s family insists he was bewitched by the “she-devil” – a Yezidi survivor of heinous trafficking. Loving Meleknaz and her blind daughter caused Hussein’s death, his family claims. Ibrahim instead seeks facts: the kaleidoscopic voices of extended relatives and friends reveal an empathic man driven to alleviate suffering, save others. Amid hate, intolerance, terrorism, finding Hussein’s missing Meleknaz proves essential: “Please don’t misunderstand, it’s more myself I want to help than you,” Ibrahim reasons. “I want to remember that I’m a human being … I feel a deep disquiet, a disquiet that’s killing me slowly.”
The remarkably accomplished Livaneli (Serenade for Nadia) combines his prodigious abilities and experiences – as writer (with even a reference to his own 2002 award-winning novel, Bliss), poet, composer, activist, politician – to create indelible fiction based on real-life horror. Confidently translated from the Turkish by Brendan Freely, the slim novel will demand attention, provoke outrage, perhaps even inspire lifesaving change.
Discover: The murder of a Turkish man in Germany and the disappearance of his lover and her child spark an intimate, introspective inspection for an Istanbul journalist.
Readers: Middle Grade