The Well of Trapped Words by Sema Kaygusuz
In 2013, Sema Kaygusuz addressed the Edinburgh International Book Festival and spoke of the transitional qualities of literature, especially across linguistic barriers. Her latest offering of short fiction may well have suffered a little loss in translation, but The Well of Trapped Words lives up to the author’s proposed universality of literature despite this.
The stories contained within speak to a basic humanity, but at no point is it watered down or diluted. Each tale is defined by the notion of hidden significance, more often than not portraying a revelation through a range of means – be that a change of view or a gradual metamorphosis. There is a mysticism threaded throughout the book that is perhaps the source of the unique aptness of the themes and situations, regardless of their spatio-temporal origin or the language in which they are written. Though this mysticism never tips over into a glaring magic realism, readers will find a touch of Angela Carter in how Kaygusuz finds wonder and deeper tones of colour in mundanity, as well as a delicious flair for description.
Of particular note are the stories Yulerzik and Many Years Ago, I Was Standing in a Meydan, a master of short fiction breaking down the barriers of literary nationalism.