By Nazlı Eray
Introduction by Sibel Erol (2006)
Robert Finn's translation of Turkish author Nazlı Eray's Orphée makes available to the English-language reader a rewriting of the myth from the perspective of Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus. Eray's surrealistic version takes place in a hot resort town in contemporary Turkey. The setting of an archaeological dig gives a connection to the past and literally to the underworld. Found in the dig is a statue of the Roman emperor Hadrian, who proceeds to offer an unusual perspective on modern life and values through mysterious letters carried by a messenger pigeon. Eray also comments on modernity, as the city of Ankara emerges as a character in the novel's fantasy. Set in junta-ruled Turkey of the 1980s, the novel takes its place as a crucial slice of Turkish literary history.
Resonating with haunting references to the film Last Tango in Paris, the novel evolves as a mystery story with a humorous bent. Thus Eray illuminates her insatiable curiosity about other cultures, particularly those of the West. Finally, the style of the translation is simple and clear, with crisp dialogue. Sibel Erol, professor of Turkish literature at New York University, has written an introduction that places this fantastic plot in a literary context, as well as in understandable terms that relate to the reality of today's Turkey.
Nazlı Eray is a well-known writer with a large following in Turkey today. She has been a member of the Turkish parliament and is active in literary and political circles. As a young writer, she participated in the Iowa International Writers Program.
Robert Finn is currently Ertegun Visiting Professor in the Near Eastern Studies Department of Princeton University. He worked with the author on this translation when he was a diplomat in Turkey.
To purchase this book, visit the University of Texas Press Web site.