Monday, 1 August 2016

Ali And Ramazan by Perihan Magden

Ali And Ramazan by Perihan Magden
First published in Turkish in 2009 by Dogan Kin as Ali Ile Ramazan. English translation by Ruth Whitehouse published in 2012 by AmazonCrossing.

Featured in 5Books1Theme: Pride Month and WorldReads: Turkey

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy the ebook from
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

How I got this book:
Purchased the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

'Based on a true story, this novel follows Ali and Ramazan, two boys from very different backgrounds who land in the same Istanbul orphanage. They quickly see eye to eye and fall into a loving relationship as children, bringing light to one another and to the other orphans in their dreary adopted home. Ramazan is a charmer, the school master's unfortunate favorite, the clown among the boys, and the only one with access to the world outside the orphanage's walls. He takes naïve, sweet, and quietly intelligent Ali under his wing, and together they blossom in a world all their own. However, at age 18 they are released into the streets of Istanbul to find their own way without the support of the state. Faced with an unaccepting world in which they have no one but each other, Ali and Ramazan each make choices that cannot be reversed, with tragic consequences.'

Ali And Ramazan is not a happy novella. Abandoned orphans struggle to overcome the mental scars of their childhoods against a background of sexual, physical and mental abuse. Neglected and deprived by the incompetence of the orphanage's Master, they grow up cold and hungry before being summarily expelled on their eighteenth birthdays. It's a bleak image and all the more shocking for Magden's matter-of-fact prose. This book shows a dark side of Istanbul where child prostitution is rife and almost 'normal'. Yet amongst the gloom, we see sparks of happiness by was of Ali and Ramazan's intense romance. The two are inseparable as boys and lovers as men, but the strength of their love isn't enough to lift them out of their sordid lives.

Magden's prose reminded me of another Turkish book, Aylin by Ayse Kulin, in that I often felt detached from the story whilst reading. Both books tell reality-based stories of lives and with both I found it difficult to really get into the emotional aspects of the writing. Magden writes often of the great love between Ali and Ramazan, but I felt the third-person narration style got in the way of really putting this across to the reader. Also, I thought while reading that this book was far too short. Ali and Ramazan's lives are glimpsed so briefly that I didn't think I had time to really get to know them. However, now that I am thinking about the story in order to write this review, I wonder if brevity is a deliberate ploy on Magden's part - a reflection of the curtailed potential she shows being wasted.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Perihan Magden / LGBT books / Books from Turkey

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