It's 2017 and Leyla, a Turkish twenty-something living in Berlin is scrubbing toilets at an Alice in Wonderland-themed hostel after failing her thesis, losing her student visa, and suing her German university in a Kafkaesque attempt to reverse her failure.Increasingly distant from what used to be at arm's reach—writerly ambitions, tight knit friendships, a place to call home—Leyla attempts to find solace in the techno beats of Berlin's nightlife, with little success. Right as the clock winds down on the hold on her visa, Leyla meets a conservative Swedish tourist and begins to fall in love, or something like it. Will she accept an IKEA life with the Volvo salesman and relinquish her creative dreams, or return to Turkey to her mother and sister, codependent and enmeshed, her father's ghost still haunting their lives?
There are moments when Leyla’s analyses can border on the self-serious ... At its most compelling, though, Leyla’s voice is wry and reflective, curious about her own ambivalences. Koca especially shines when illuminating 'women’s pain' ... The narrative force in The Applicant comes not primarily from Leyla’s precarious status under the Fiktionsbescheinigung, or even her impending choice between the inconstant life of an artist and the stability offered by her lover. It comes from a quieter uncertainty.
A frenetic tear through a cosmopolitan world of all-night techno and ketamine-fueled encounters ... With its clipped, direct sentences and its abundance of resonant questions, long and short, Koca’s prose mirrors this narrative doubleness—giving readers an experience that is both irresistibly consumable yet compellingly durable.