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Night, Bilge Karasu
Metis Fiction
Novel
13 x 19.5 cm, 232 pp
ISBN No. 975-342-183-4

Prints:
1st Print: 1985
2nd Print: December 2004
Bilge Karasu
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About the Author
Bilge Karasu (1930-1995) graduated from the Philosophy Department of Istanbul University and taught at Hacettepe University for many years. One of Turkey’s most respected writers, Karasu published four books of short stories, three novels and four collections of essays. His first novel Gece (Night) is the winner of the 1991 Pegasus Literature Award; Uzun Sürmüş bir Günün Akşamı (The Evening of a Very Long Day) won the 1971 Sait Faik Short Story Award, and the English translation of Karasu’s Göçmüş Kediler Bahçesi (The Garden of Departed Cats) by Aron Aji was awarded the 2004 National Translation Award in the USA.
       Usually referred to as "the sage of Turkish literature," Bilge Karasu is an influential reference point in the progress of Turkish fiction writing. A perfectionist, a philosopher, and a master of literary arts, he left behind a body of work, which, although intricately woven and at times obscure, skillfully outlines a world unmatched in its crystal clear transparency. The fact that he is labeled "the most difficult writer in the Turkish language" arises from his uncompromising loyalty to pure literature, which he described as a structure to be accomplished by a constant interaction between the writer and the reader.
Other Books from Metis
Troya'da Ölüm Vardı (Death in Troy, 1963
Uzun Sürmüş Bir Günün Akşamı (The Evening of a Very Long Day),
1970
(The Evening of a Very Long Day),
1970
Göçmüş Kediler Bahçesi (The Garden of Departed Cats), 1979 (The Garden of Departed Cats), 1979
Kısmet Büfesi (The Kiosk Called Fate), 1982
Kılavuz (The Guide), 1990
Ne Kitapsız Ne Kedisiz (Not Without Books Nor Without Cats), 1994
Narla İncire Gazel (Ode to the Pomegranate and the Fig), 1995
Altı Ay Bir Güz (Six Months and an Autumn), published post-mortem, 1996
Lağımlaranası ya da Beyoğlu (Beyoğlu the Mother of Sewage), published post-mortem, 1999
Öteki Metinler (Other Texts), published post-mortem, 1999
Bilge Karasu
Night

Gece

Rights sold / published by:
English: Louisiana State University Press
French: La Difference
German: Literaturca
Greek: Exandas

Reviews
Excerpt
Both a political novel of deep sophistication and a dazzling meditation on the craft and meaning of fiction, Night explores the redemptive powers of imagination as it shows us the mind of a world-class novelist at work. Evoking the fear and paralysis of will that grip ordinary citizens in a modern police state, Night is political in the most profound sense, in its exploration of the human condition and our own culpability in oppression, whenever and wherever it occurs. The postmodern structure of the novel –fragmentary entries from various diaries accompanied by footnotes commenting on the preceding texts– and its use of multiple, anonymous and unreliable authors combine to intensify the atmosphere of chaos and dread.
       Winner of the 1991 Pegasus Literature Award which honors works from countries whose literature is rarely translated into English, Night occupies a special place in contemporary Turkish fiction.
REVIEWS
Richard Howard
"We are modern, this inspired Turkish modernist reminds us, to the degree of uncertainty we can endure. His scattered fiction is dispossessed of any circumstantial resonance as to place, time, voice, gender, agent, action, and consequence. Yet the tesserae fit together in a kind of scathing aleatory mosaic, an eloquent rehearsal of the condition of terrorism."
John Shreffler, Booklist, 15 March 1994
"Parallel to [his] plot, Karasu footnotes commentary upon its progress. He also changes narrators, literally from page to page, in an attempt to so disrupt the normal process of novelistic narrative that the reader will become disoriented in ways analogous to those induced by the terror he is describing. Beautifully done, this leaving behind of many of the normal devices of the novel enables Karasu to create a free-floating dystopia worthy of Kafka."
EXCERPT
1

Night slowly comes on. Descends. Already it has begun filling the hollows. Once these are full and it empties onto the plain, everything will turn gray. For a while no light will go on, in the hollows or out beyond. The glow on the hills will seem for a time to suffice; then the hills too will sink into darkness.
In this dark, the tongue alone will appear to survive. In this place where no weight or reality remains. The one reality the darkness will seem to offer is in lending itself to being spoken. Between two people. Two walls.
Then clothes will start to come off, so that the night-inflicted wounds may smart all the more.
Firm young muscles will move into the night.
Flabby muscles will turn to jelly during the night.
Only the tongue will tell of the lights on the hills and in the underground palaces. Only language will speak of the single-celled creatures bathing in this light.
It is slowly getting dark. Up from our bowels night rises, up toward the heart and the eyes.

2

It is early afternoon when the first nightworkers appear in the streets. Even if only a few.
Their job is to get night ready: by digging holes, for example, where night may easily collect when it comes.
Their job is to prepare people for the night: to take young muscles and get them used to stripping down for when the night will require that. To get them used to the longest night by penetrating their naked flesh with cold, thin metal rods or by burying red-hot buckshot within it.
By evening the nightworkers become easy for everybody to spot. Tools in hand, they wander through the streets in ever-increasing numbers, preparing the night, preparing for the night.
The tools they bear are fashioned of iron, cut from well-tanned hides, carved from choice timber, or molded from pliant resins. They serve to pound, tear, pierce, gouge, twist, and snap off. Also to burn and to break.
These tools have been designed and specially made for use on young bodies.

3

The nightworkers have been around since early afternoon, although few people have noticed them.
It is rumored that nightworkers like square loaves of bread. They may not be the only ones in this great city who like square bread. But the bakers, tobacconists, and grocers think that all who ask for square bread must somehow be nightworkers.
In shops where bread is sold, round, long, and rectangular loaves of bread are also available. In midafternoon, when children return from school, business begins to pick up. More and more loaves are sold – round, rectangular, long, oval square. Hands –small, large, bony, soft, dirty, clean, callused, sticky– carry them off.
The nightworkers walk the alleys, watching into which houses the round, rectangular, oval, and long loaves make their way. Although they proceed rather casually, those who observe carefully will from time to time see one of them go up to a door and put an unobtrusive mark on it somewhere or other. The keen observer is puzzled. In the houses so marked, square bread is never eaten, yet the marks give no clue as to the shape of the loaves consumed. Indeed the doors have been marked somewhat at random. Or, at least, so it seems.


Excerpt from the English edition, translated by Güneli Gün.