The Book of Devices by Turkish writer İhsan Oktay Anar

İhsan Oktay Anar is one of the most extraordinary authors of Turkish literature, but unfortunately, only one of his novels has been translated into English – “Kitab-ül Hiyel”, that is “The Book of Devices”, a charming story of inventors in 19th-century Ottoman times.

"He is indubitably recognised as a historical novelist with a unique authorial style that combines Ottoman-esque language and post-modern narrative techniques," said Burcu Alkan, a research fellow at Giessen University's Department of English.

““Kitab-ül Hiyel” is a fascinating novella about passions, inventions, and obsessions. It tells stories of dreams and dreamers and fears and nightmares. In addition to the curious stories that bring together equally curious characters, one of the most interesting running lines in the novel is the dot.

“The words “hiyel” (mechanic), “hayal” (dream) and “hile” (trick) are associated with one another in the Arabic script and with the presence or absence of dots in their calligraphy, they open a path of associative symbolism in the narrative. It is this symbolism that breathes the novel its soul (to put it in an apt metaphor). Kitab-ül Hiyel definitely has a unique place in contemporary Turkish literature and offers a distinct story in a compact work," Alkan said.

The book was translated by Gregory Key, a professor of Turkish language studies at Binghamton University.

"Gregory Key is very much in command of the novelist’s authorial voice and his translation of such a complex finesse is a great contribution to Turkish literature in translation," Alkan said.