Ankara, the capital city in the heart of Turkey at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, East and West, is a hotspot in the Cold War, torn between communism and conservatism, Western freedoms and traditional ways, with an army fearful of democracy and a government that employs thugs and torture to enforce law and order. In the summer of 1980, tensions are building. Homes of the poor are being burnt down. Armed revolutionaries on college campuses battle right-wings militias in the city's neighborhoods. The lines between good and bad, right and wrong, and beautiful and ugly are blurred by shed blood.
Two children, one from a family living in misery and one well-off, form an alliance amid the turmoil. Through their senses, the cityscape unfolds its wonders, its rich smells and colors, as they try to make sense of the events swirling around them. And they hatch a plan. For the first time in generations, mute swans have migrated from Russia to the Black Sea and to a park at the center of Ankara. For the generals, they are an affirmation, and their wings must be broken so they can't fly away. But if the children can save one swan, won't they have saved the freedom of all?
AuthorBy Ece Temelkuran, Translated by Kenneth Dakan
Published7 November 2017
Dimensions6.00 x 9.00in.
About the author
Ece Temelkuran, one of Turkey’s best-known novelists and political commentators, was a prominent investigative journalist before her controversial explorations of Kurdish and Armenian issues led to her dismissal. She was a visiting fellow at Oxford and delivered the Freedom Lecture as a guest of Amnesty International and the Prince Claus Foundation. She has contributed articles to the New York Times and the Guardian. Her books have been published in nineteen countries. She lives in Istanbul and Zagreb.
“Who knew they still wrote books like this? Gloriously immersive, filled with details of family life, childhood and love that had me in tears. Epic and miniature; funny and terrifying; it’s everything I want in a book. What a lucky reader to pick this up!”—Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Confessions of Max Tivoli and Less
"[The Time of Mute Swans] moves skillfully between history and fiction. . . . Set in Ankara in the tense summer leading up to the Turkish coup of 1980, this novel centers on two children . . . who contend with the strife of the adult world. . . . The end of [their] innocence is vividly evoked.”—The New Yorker
"Street battles, kidnapping, torture, fascists, communists, rocky marriages, and class tensions—and most of it seen through the eyes of two eight-year-old children living in Ankara.—The New York Times Book Review
“The children in The Time of Mute Swans notice a great deal that their troubled elders miss, and though their understanding is often incomplete, their insights are compelling. Like tiles in a Turkish mosaic, their observations fit together to create a vivid picture of the impact of political conflict on individuals, families, and communities.” —Jean Hegland, author of Into the Forest and Still Time
"Controversial Turkish journalist and novelist Temelkuran . . . reimagines one of Turkey’s darkest times with hope for its future."—Booklist
The Time of Mute Swans provides the opening scene of the movie we're now living." —Hürriyet Daily News (Turkey}
"This novel creates a lump in your throat when you can't decide whether to laugh or cry."—Diken (Turkey)
"Have you ever heard people laugh as if birds were flying out of their mouths? Or thought about how alive objects can be? Everything seems possible in Ece Temelkuran's latest. . . . Those who are not familiar with Turkish history, will learn a lot about this dark era. . . .[A] wonderful novel." —Mine Krause, Turkish Literature Blog
"The novel is not only a personal archaeology of its author but also proposes an extraordinary way to remember the past for the reader." —Haberturk e-newspaper (Turkey)
"The Time of Mute Swans has all the richness and the secret poetica of the Turkish language. A flawless novel with many layers." —Oya Baydar, author of The Lost World
"Ece Temelkuran has written a modern fairy tale and has packed her own story, the present, and the endless tragedy of Turkey into a elegant . . . novel." — Neues Deutschland (Germany)
"Reading The Time of Mute Swans is like looking through a kaleidoscope. . . . From the individual fragments, the portrait emerges of a country that has been in politically exceptional conditions for decades." — Die Wochenzeitung (Germany)
"A poetic and at the same time political novel whose naïve-realistic narration captivates."— Der Bund (Germany)
"Ece Temelkuran is one of the most important voices of contemporary Turkish literature."—Deutschlandradio Kultur (Germany)
"The Turkish author Ece Temelkuran combines elaborate research with a poetic vision in her novel Time of the Mute Swans and draws a picture of her country that is always surprising." — SRF (Germany)