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The City In Crimson Cloak
 
Asli Erdogan is an exceptionally sensitive and perceptive writer who gives us perfect literary texts.
—Orhan Pamuk
An unforgettable tale of mass-scale delirium, chaos, and death.
—Orhan Duru, Yeni Y�zy
Asli Erdogan's hands touch the human heart. Some of her sentences are verses of poetry...saturated with the bitter juice of life. Read this novel slowly, take your time, otherwise, you will be overwhelmed by the crossfire of images and metaphors.
—Fethi Naci, Cumhuriyet Book Review
Turkish Pepper, Brazilian Heat: [B]eyond a doubt the best I have reviewed this autumn. Overwhelming... In the same way that Dublin and Joyce belong together, or Prague and Kafka, for me from now on Rio will be inextricably bound togther with the name Asli Erdogan. With this volume she writes herself into a domination tradition linked to the last century's novels: the novel of the city.
—Aftenposten, Norway
The City In Crimson Cloak
Asli Erdogan, Translated by Amy Spangler

Paper | 5" x 8" | 176 pgs. | ISBN: 1-933368-74-8 | List: $14.95 | 11/1/2007

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About the book:
�zg�r, having deserted her past and secluded herself from the outer world, is poor, hungry, and on the verge of a mental breakdown. She has a single weapon left in the all-out war she has declared against Rio de Janerio: to write the city, which has trapped her and robbed her of everything. As we read the bits and pieces of �zg�r's unfinished novel, The City in Crimson Cloak, with its autobiographical protagonist named, for the time being, only as �., we begin to put together the fragments of �zg�r's story. Meanwhile, the narrator tells us of a single day of �zg�r's life which is, in fact, her last.

As �zg�r follows in the footsteps of �., through the shanty towns, Condomble rituals, and the violence and sexuality of the streets to her own death, the narrator searches for a way to make peace with life, a route to catharsis. As we delve deeper into the two concentric novels, the borderline between the two Rio's-�zg�r's Rio as a metaphor for death and Rio as life-starts to blur, and as �zg�r catches up with her heroine, the two opponents, Rio and �zg�r, bleed into one another...

About the author:
One of Turkey�s most challenging young authors, Asli Erdogan has been a critical success both in Turkey and Europe. A former physicist who abandoned her scientific career for a literary one, Erdogan�s first book, the novel Kabuk Adam (The Shell Man), was published in 1994. She went on to make her mark abroad two years later when she received the Deutsche Welle Prize for her short story �The Wooden Birds�. Erdogan has devoted herself to writing full-time since 1996 and the publication of a collection of her short stories and poetic prose entitled Mucizevi Mandarin (The Miraculous Mandarin)

Erdogan�s second novel, The City in Crimson Cloak, established her as a writer of formidable literary merit and continues to gather accolades abroad, especially in France where it has been published in by Actes Sud and most recently in Norway where it has been published by Glyndendal. The latter included the book in its Marg series�Marg meaning both �spine� and �margin� in Norwegian�which features fourteen authors including Helen Cixous, Kader Abdolah, W.G. Sebold, Cynthia Ozick, Hanan al-Shaykh, Nathan Englander, Dubrovko Ugresic, and now, Erdogan. All of the authors have been selected because of their significance as �backbones� of the modern literary tradition as well as the challenging nature of their writing, and hence positionings on the �margins� of the literary world.

From 1998 to 2000 Erdogan, a human rights activist and former Turkish representative of PEN�s Writers in Prison Committee, wrote a column for the Turkish newspaper Radikal entitled �The Others�. Her articles were later collected and published as the book Bir Yolculuk Ne Zaman Biter (When a Journey Ends). Two of these articles are featured in the 2004 edition of M.E.E.T.�s journal.

Erdogan has also participated in various exhibitions both in Turkey and abroad, and has recently been a featured guest at international literary and arts events such as the Beaux Arts Festival in Brussels and the Kunstfestival in Antwerp.

This author is on tour:
See events page for details.

From the book:

FIREWORKS DAY


Traveller, who art thou?
What seekest thou down there?
Thus Spake Zarathustra

She had finally succeeded in becoming a real vagabond, just upped and disappeared into this South American city famous for murdering street kids, and for its carnival. She had turned out to be one of the millions of homeless on this planet tossed about here and there, one of the lost souls left to the mercy of iron-fisted fate. An adventuresome girl from a good family, that small, delicate, frightened girl had now become a consummate rogue. She no longer falls for fairytales, she can walk alone on dark streets, she doesn�t brag about the beatings she takes. In this city, which pays no heed to anyone, lying sprawled out upon the ground as if her intestines have been ripped to pieces, she finds no solace even in the thought of death.
She had traversed oceans, crossed the equator and set foot upon a piece of land about which she knew nothing. She had set fire to everything she left behind. And what confronted her was a universe, filthy through and through. The old ways of the Old World were invalid here. Value judgements were now the heavy, useless luggage she had carried over from Turkey. Its bottom scruffed up and worn out, its handle about to come off, it�s been left to rot away in the dampness of the tropics. Abandoned until that continuously postponed return.
When the life-defying girl-child chose �the world�s most dangerous� city, she only wanted to look into the dark depths of humankind. To look at it from a safe distance... Instead, her hair went up in flames in the hell that she found herself turning to face. Rio de Janeiro sicced its stupefying anarchy upon her, its days made of white heat, its nights full of promises, threats, caresses, its murders... Its will now bereft of its muscle power, its individuality hanging off of it in tatters. An army that has been routed and left its wounded behind...

All at once the sound of gunfire started up again; in a sudden fright �zg�r jumped, and the glass in her left hand fell to the floor. Her entire body tensed up and began shaking, as if given an electrical shock. Sweat gushed from every pore on her body, but still she felt cold as ice. Tears caustic like acid filled her eyes, yet just couldn�t seem to flow. �Enough! Enough! I can�t take it anymore! My God, put an end to this torture now! Can�t you see that I�ve no strength left?�
Her nervous fit lasted only two or three minutes before she pulled herself together again. With the carefulness of an expert sergeant, she listened to the monologue of the semi-automatic. As soon as she understood that the gunfire was coming not from the favela�s�as ghettos are called in Brazil�but from the valley right next to her, she decided to go inside. It relieved her to see that not one glass had cracked, not even a single drop of tea had spilled onto her notebooks. When she realized that, what�s more, the sweaty fingers of her right hand had tightly clung to her pen throughout the duration of the fit, she smiled.
The two huge favela�s on the slopes of Santa Teresa Hill leading to the jungle had been at war for eight days. Since the junta period, around six hundred of the favela�s, which had turned Rio�s extraordinarily beautiful face into a pockmark, had been under the control of Commando Verelho, one of Latin America�s most powerful organizations. Not a day passed when there wasn�t a conflict; competing gangs would rip into one another over the dividing of cocaine spoils, or the police, finding that they hadn�t been getting enough free lunches, would carry out raids in units of fifty, armed to the teeth.
Who would�ve guessed that the worst war that �zg�r was to see during her two years in Rio was to break out in Santa Teresa. Since last Saturday, the sound of infantry guns, Uzis, and hand grenades had ushered in the day and continued intermittenly throughout. Two nights ago, she was in Santa Teresa, famous for its bars, and as she wandered about its streets, streets shrouded in deadly silence overhung by lamplights that no longer work, �zg�r saw half a dozen buses�long barrels hanging out of their windows, crammed full of soldiers, their headlights dimmed�silently climb up the hill. The army�s intervention did not bring an end to the conflict; quite the opposite, now things had really gotten out of control.
Until just the day before, she had always considered the sound of the gunshots to be just another source of noise in Rio, with its non-stop commotion, just another blemish that kept her from concentrating on her novel, or so that�s how she thought she considered it. Until the nervous fits began...

She was trying to determine exactly how this period of no return had begun. If she could only draw the borders and lay out its touchstones, then at least perhaps she could take it under the control of her mind. If she had to choose a ground zero, she would choose the day that she encountered the mulatto woman in Copacabana. The final day of Easter, when all the clocks in Rio stopped, when the heat suddenly shot up to over forty degrees, when the city began to shake as if gripped by a seziure...
© 2003 Soft Skull Press, Inc.


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