Yazarımız Cemil Karakullukçu’nun 2012 BU Yayınevi Gençlik Edebiyatı Fantastik Roman Yarışması’nda üçüncülük ödülünü kazanan eseri Düşler Kasabasında Bir Yaz Tatili’nin değerlendirmesi Hürriyet Daily News’ta yer aldı. Ardacan Özdemir tarafından yapılan değerlendirmeyi aşağıda bulabilirsiniz.
A Summer Vacation In The Phantasmagoria County
Is reading books a duty? That is a big question for Turkish young people. Our history is filled with righteous intellectuals struggling against the horrors of cultural anti-intellectualism. I can relate to you thousands of stories or novels on this matter from Turkish literature. The question itself is actually a component of our modern subconscious. And it causes many problems for us, including a lack of literary progress and insufficient literacy among the Turkish population because it is impossible for us to acknowledge the book’s ancientness as a device. Reading books is still a cultural duty for our children.
One way to deal with this, of course, is the development of children’s literature. The Turkish publishing company BU Yayınları seems to be quite keen on this front, as they have been publishing books for children for more than 20 years. What they are doing more significantly these days is making novel competitions for children’s literature in various genres. Last year a guy went there and came in third with a horror novel. Yes, you heard it right. Someone won something in a children’s literature competition with a horror novel.That lunatic’s name is Cemil Karakullukçu and the novel we are talking here is “Düşler Kasabasında Bir Yaz Tatili” (A Summer Vacation in Phantasmagoria County). The novel’s story is about the adventures of an 8-year-old named Okan, who has to spend his whole summer with his Aunt Kerkes in her ancient house in the country. Throughout these adventures, Okan learns secrets about different realms and his own destiny. The premise is based on the imagination of an 8-year-old. But from such a cliché premise, you usually won’t expect plot devices with multilayered mythical references. The author gives you various images related to both Eastern and Western mythologies. The role of the mythical storyteller is acknowledged by the narrative itself. This is done with the use of an interesting kind of third-person omniscient narrator, whose isolation from the characters shows itself in the unique use of language. What makes you read the book is how the story is being told instead of the components of the story itself. That is a hard attitude to find in Turkish literature, where the importance of the storyteller is not acknowledged well enough in our everyday subconscious. Yeah, maybe the book really gets grotesque and obscure in with the gore in some chapters, but the author succeeded in isolating that kind of so called ‘harmful’ images with his interesting use of narration. I think this is important for a culture like ours, where debates on censorship never end. Moreover, the emphasis on ‘the storytelling’ is very important for younger generations to look at, since the most basic thing in life, after being able to let yourself live, is to be able to express yourself.But, on the other hand, that very same powerful use of expression shows you what this novel lacks. Although the impressions of the characters are very vital in the story, what is emphasized is how those impressions are defined or reflected by the narrator. Therefore, what makes the book good, the use of narration, negatively affects many aspects of the book In my opinion. Since impressions don’t hold much importance, it downplays the character development, key events and pacing. In a children’s novel, you would expect a hero that could be seen as an example for your children. But here, the main character, Okan, is probably the stupidest kid you may ever see in your whole life. No decision made by him makes you impressed or surprised. Many other characters have this problem, too. Although these main components of the novel (the characters and the main plot) are quite weak, the subplots and secondary characters shine like a thousand stars. Especially the chapter ‘İki Sevgili’ (Two Lovers) is one of the best things in this genre of contemporary Turkish literature, and this is not a surprise. The chapter in question is the most digressed part of the story from the main plot. Yet, the empty characters also give a weak feeling of antagonism, which is important for the pacing of the story. ‘The Bad Guy’ in the book is quite… bad. I don’t mean evil, it is just bad. It just means nothing. There is no proper resolution after his defeat. That is really weak.In a pedagogical way, I might say the book in effect shows how children’s definitions of personal space are different than their parents. Many adults in our generation define their personal space with what they own in that particular part of the universe. House decoration has been one of the biggest obsessions of the Turkish upper middle class since the 1990s. The earlier chapters of the book show you a kid who has no interest in such definitions, and establishes his own meaning in that Palahnukian Hell. I think that is really important to know for parents, because children’s view of personal space is really, really different, and quite probably better than yours (You are old, goddammit – face the facts).
Unfortunately, the book is yet to be translated into English, but it is worth checking out if you know Turkish. Yeah, maybe the characters are stupid, the main plot is worth nothing and there is no proper resolution, but it gives you something very significant that is very, VERY hard to find in Turkish literature: A goddamn good narrator.
I’m out – I gotta listen to some Mothers of Invention records…