Chador, Murathan Mungan
Metis Fiction
13 x 19.5 cm, 110 pp
ISBN No. 975-342-459-0

1st Print: January 2004
2nd Print: January 2004
Murathan Mungan
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About the Author
One of the most prominent and prolific contemporary writers of Turkey, Murathan Mungan has published poetry, short stories, plays, novels, screenplays, radio plays, essays, film and theater criticism, and political columns. He has over fifteen poetry books, among them Osmanlıya Dair Hikâyat (Stories on the Ottomans, 1981), Metal (1994) and Yaz Geçer (Summer Too Passes, 1992) which has attained the status of a cult book due to its continuing popularity. A selection of his poems were translated and published in Kurdish as Li Rojhilatê Dilê Min (In the East of my Heart, 1996). His works have also been translated into Bosnian, Bulgarian, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Persian and Swedish. Most recently a selection of his short stories were published in German under the title Palast Des Ostens (2006) and his semi-autobiographical narrative Paranın Cinleri (Money Djinns, 1997) in Greek this year. An Italian translation of the same work is forthcoming. Also his 2004 novella Çador (Chador) will be published in French and Italian. Mungan’s trilogy of plays, “The Mesopotamian Trilogy” has enjoyed successful theater runs across the country and the last play of the trilogy, Geyikler Lanetler (Deer Curses, 1992) is on the 2007 program of the Arca Azzura Theater in Italy. His latest publications in Turkish are Kâğıt Taş Kumaş (Paper Stone Fabric, 2007) a play in three parts; Büyümenin Türkçe Tarihi (The History of Growing Up in Turkish, ed., 2007), a volume of short stories from the history of modern Turkish literature, edited in collaboration with the foremost literary critics in the country; and most recently, Yedi Kapılı Kırk Oda (Forty Rooms with Seven Doors, 2007), a book of short stories.
Other Books from Metis
Yaz Geçer (Summer Too Passes), 1992, poetry
Geyikler Lanetler (Deer Curses, The Mesopotamian Trilogy III), 1992, play
Paranın Cinleri (Money Djinns), 1997, narrative
Yüksek Topuklar (High Heels), 2002, novel
Kadından Kentler (Cities of Women), 2008, Short Stories

Click here for full Mungan list
Murathan Mungan


Rights sold / published by:
French: Actes Sud
Greek: Kastaniotis
Italian: Giunti

Returning to his homeland after many years and a violent regime change, Akhbar plunges into a desperate search for his loved ones: his mother, his sister, and his lover. Akhbar’s journey from door to door and city to city in this war-torn land only leads him to increasing unfamiliarity. Most disconcerting of all, women have disappeared from sight behind their burkas, as Akhbar protests, "Half of life is missing". An unsettling tale of homecoming, Chador explores the alienation caused by oppression, loss and fear.
Yeşim Arslangiray Vesper, Varlık, May 2006
"…Thus a desperate search begins and Mungan, with his unique literary style that gives life to words, transforms them into color, scent, sound and sight, magnetizes the reader into the dismal, gloomy and insecure world of the narrative. The seemingly clear flow of the narrative, the short sentences and plain language of the piece renders it accessible to all, while its eloquence and richness allows for a diversity of associations and reading experiences."
A. Ömer Türkeş, Radikal Kitap Eki, 6 February 2004
"Even though it gestures towards the ongoing public debate regarding the veil, Mungan’s aim in this book is not to reproduce commonplace dualisms such as progressive/reactionary, secular/Islamist, West/East. Instead the text questions the motives behind veiling women, the reality, the colors, the lives, the dreams veiled with the veil, as well as the gender of power."
In spite of the bare mountains in the distance, all hopelessly alike, the low hills each one more colorless than the last, the uniform undulating sand dunes heaped up by the wind, and the dusty sun that until today had scorched everything he saw with equal indifference, Akhbar could sense that he was nearing his country, that it wasn’t far now to the border. He knew this not from any familiar landmarks along the way but from something in the depths of his heart, the memory of which was lost even to him.
       The heat had numbed them both. For a while they didn’t speak but listened to the hum of the road, the heat, and the desert that approached and retreated alongside them. They soon ran out of things to say to each other and, as the journey wore on, lost all enthusiasm for talking. Pitted by the sand that clung to the windows, tightly shut against the stinging hot air blowing off the desert, the landscape told Akhbar nothing about where they had come from, or where they were going. It was an old vehicle, high, open in the back, with big studded tires and random motley patches where the paint had been damaged on trips. They had had to stop countless times along the way, drawing new strength at the few cool spots.
       Seeing the sweat trickling down the driver’s forehead onto his neck, it occurred to Akhbar to mop the perspiration from his own brow. A person gave up wiping away sweat after a while, he knew that. He blotted the sweat on his face and head with the cool, thin cloth of his yellow silk turban with creamy-white polka-dots, then wound it snugly around his head again. He was uncomfortable. Rubbing his hands over his face seemed to refresh him. "We’re almost at the border," remarked the driver, as if in approval, sensing Akhbar’s anticipation. His smile bright despite thick purple lips and big gaps between his rotting teeth, he aroused no dark forebodings in a man’s heart. Akhbar smiled back.
       As the first signs of the border began to come into view on the horizon, Akhbar felt his lips were dry and raised his canteen to his mouth. "Care for a drink?" he asked, remembering that courtesy demanded that he offer the driver some first. The driver wagged his head from side to side.
       When they reached the frontier, which appeared to be no more than a handful of buildings on the horizon, Akhbar realized that it was heavily fortified, far more so than had been evident from a distance. Besides the buildings, he saw electrified wire fences, mounds of earth that seemed to conceal mines, observation towers, trenches, breastworks and, at the bottom of the wide trenches, small huts no bigger than a room, built for a purpose not readily apparent.
       Although he hoped that his papers, which had been checked numerous times and found to be in order, and his renewed passport wouldn’t cause a problem at the border, a barely perceptible fear stood sentinel in his heart. What one heard at a distance, what was written in the papers, what refugees described, and the omnipresent possibility of some fresh plot, some new trap laid for him, was sufficient to keep such fear alive in his breast.
       He was afraid his desire to return to his country after so many years would arouse suspicion, would be deliberately misinterpreted by the authorities. Afraid of being asked irrational questions that he wouldn’t know how to answer if they tried to press him on this point. His only consolation was that he had gone abroad long before the regime was toppled and that there was absolutely no political aspect to his not having returned sooner. Even they would realize that much, he reasoned. They ought to anyway, considering the suspicious zeal with which they guarded their borders. Akhbar had always been a reserved type of person who didn’t stick his nose into other people’s business.
       "Don’t get all worked up for nothing," said the driver, as if sensing his anxiety. "Absolutely nothing’s going to happen, you’ll see. I pass this way at least five times a week. Nothing is as strict as it used to be. A lie results from everybody adding something to the truth."
       Still, Akhbar would have liked to be sure the driver wasn’t saying these things just to reassure him.
       They were stopped at the border.

Translated by Virginia Saçlıoğlu
Longer sample manuscript available in English 

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