The Wounded Age and Eastern Tales by Ferit Edgü
Even if a writer’s words “wound or stab us” or amount to “sabotage and subversion” is bearing witness enough? It’s this doubt that partly informs Ferit Edgü’s The Wounded Age and Eastern Tales (translated superbly into English for the first time by Aron Aji). Whether it’s the reporter venturing into the Eastern Mountains in Turkey to report back on ethno-national violence or the fragmentary Eastern Tales which picture the grim stoicism and hard lives of the people who live in the mountains, there’s a feeling that words may not be enough, “Who made you come? It’s not safe here”, “You writing it down?…What nonsense!…Write this: I got no patience left.” And yet maybe words are important. People from the mountains want to talk, want to communicate even if the only outcome is to make themselves feel better or understood. Maybe that’s enough. People talk, people are questioned, some people are suspicious but the constant is that these people are travelling, have lost family on the way and are a long way from their homes, “We crossed the mountains, made it here safely. But who knows where we’ll be sent next” - ”I’ve known mountains but not exile.” Written in punchy, crystal-clear sentences that read like poetry or incantations or dreams, Ferit Edgü is a writer trying desperately to capture as much as he can before the stories of these people are whispered, talked or shouted into the mountains and forgotten about, “Here, on this mountain, there’s the living and the dead. We can’t ignore them. Can’t leave without counting them, naming them, taking notes, making a record.” That he succeeds makes The Wounded Age and Eastern Tales absolutely essential.
The Wounded Age and Eastern Tales - Ferit Edgü (translated by Aron Aji) – publ. by NYRB Classics - £14.99