Bilge Karasu

One of Turkey's most respected writers, Bilge Karasu, (1930-1995) published four books of short stories, three novels and four collections of essays. His first novel Night is the winner of the 1991 Pegasus Literature Award, and English Translation of Karasu's The Garden of Departed Cats (New Directions) by Aron Aji was given the 2004 National Translation Award in the USA. His novella A Long Day's Evening was selected to European Society of Author's Finnegan's List of under-translated modern classics.


A Long Day’s Evening

A Long Day's Evening revolves around the relationship between two 8th century monks. Through these main characters, Karasu explores the nature of various dualities, including faith and dogma, new and old, custom and law, truth and lie, individual and society, East and West, and Byzantium and Rome. With this novel, Karasu achieves a deft synthesis between European genre play and local story-telling traditions, paving the way for an authentically Turkish fiction that exploits the poetic possibilities of the language and narrative. A Long Day's Evening was selected to the European Society of Author's Finnegan's List of under-translated modern classics.


"A Long Day's Evening combines sophisticated philosophical rumination with a storyline that the reader actually cares about - manages to be both emotionally engaging and intellectually satisfying."

William Armstrong, Hurriyet Daily News


"Karasu engages interest with prose that is sensual and immediate, combining the tumult of an inner monologue with the precise, hyperobserved present."

Publishers Weekly


Translation available in English


Rights sold: English (City Lights), Greek (Scripta)



The Garden of Departed Cats

A surreal, utterly unique novel. In an ancient Mediterranean city, a tradition is maintained: every ten years an archaic game of human chess is staged, the players (visitors versus locals) bearing weapons. This archaic game, the central event of Te Garden of Departed Cats, may prove as fatal as the deadly attraction our narrator feels fort the local man who is the Vizier, or Captain, of the home team. Their "romance" (which, though inconclusive, magnetizes our protagonist to accept the Vizier's challenge to play) provides the skeletal structure of this experimental novel. Each of their brief interactions works as a single chapter. And interleaved between their chapters are a dozen fable-like stories. The folk tale might concern a 13th century herbal that identifies a kind of tulip, a "red salamander" , which dooms anyone who eats it to never tell a lie ever again. Or the tale might be an ancient story of a terrible stoat-like creature that feeds for years on any person it sinks it claws into, like guilt. These strange fables work independently of the main narrative but, in curious and unpredictable ways (and reminiscent of Primo Levi's The Periodic Table), they echo and double its chief themes: love, its recalcitrance, its cat-like finickiness, and its refusal to be rushed. The Garden of Departed Cats is a work of peculiar beauty and strangeness, the whole layered and shiny like a piece of mica.


"Many of the texts from the Middle East that are available in translation are highly political texts. The Garden of Departed Cats is about a much more basic and at once much larger question, interactions between the hunter and the hunted. Karasu makes the reader wonder, qyestion and doubt the very nature of love and humanity. I found myself revisiting the text over and over again. Each time I discovered a new layer, a new interpretation and a new depth to this amazing work by a master word-smith."

Roberta Micallef, AATT Bulletin


"Fascinating... (The Garden of Departed Cats) is an illuminating transitional work between the work of Turkey's romantic realist Yaşar Kemal and contemporary postmodernist Orhan Pamuk. A splendidly lyrical book. More please."

Kirkus Reviews


Translation available in English


Rights sold: English (New Directions), German (Literaturca), Korean (Sigongsa), Peru (Estruendomudo), Russian (Amphora), Ukrainian (Folio)