In Ayse Papatya Bucak’s dreamlike narratives, dead girls recount the effects of an earthquake and a chess-playing automaton falls in love. A student stops eating and no one knows whether her act is personal or political. A Turkish wrestler, a hero in the East, is seen as a brute in the West, and the Greek god Apollo confronts his personal history and bewails his Homeric reputation as he tries to memorialize, and make sense of, generations of war. Bucak’s stories confront the nature of historical memory, examining the tension between myth and history, cultural categories and personal identity, performance and authenticity.
These are stories that reflect the author's Turkish heritage and a curiosity about our human search for meaning as profound as it is lyrical. The stories are music. They beguile and illuminate with narratives about yearning and desire, circumstance and courage, resilience and discovery. Reading them, while the reading lasts, replaces seeing. I found myself lingering as I read — Bucak's prose has a sort of musical cadence to it; these are fables about enchantment, myth and actual history. Her subjects — schoolgirls stuck in the debris of a disaster, an art collector's exotic oeuvre, a Trojan War Museum imagined and re-imagined by Zeus and his fellow deities, a widow's chess match with her dead husband's ghost — occupy a dreamscape of surprising encounters, art history, and Turkish culture. Each story is a vignette that has at its core a re-weaving of human relationships.
The 10 stories in Bucak’s beguiling debut play with traditional narrative forms and explore the author’s Turkish roots ... The author astutely deploys a range of styles and techniques that create a cerebral, multifarious collection. Bucak’s remarkable, inventive, and humane debut marks her as a writer to watch.