Book 879 Emine Sevgi Ozdamar – Life is a Caravanserai has two doors – I came in one I went out the other

After reading one memoir about a country (Cuba) which was politically unstable ( Before Night Falls) I was very eager to dive into this memoir, which focuses on another country which had an interesting political shift but unfortunately things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to.

The country in question is Turkey during one of its most turbulent period. During the 60’s there was the ‘end’ of the westernization of the place and military insurgencies were commonplace, which led to violence and a complete shift in cultural attitudes. Ozdamar describes all of this and through a child’s eyes so her innocence and worldview makes the atrocities and cultural changes a bit more naive. It is told in a bawdy and laugh out loud manner as bodily functions and sexual urges are documented in full and questioned. Eventually the author is fed up and moves to Germany to start a new life.  There’s also some clever word play and some stylistic tricks which the translator manages to pull off well.

Potentially I would have loved something like this but it is told in a stream of conscious style with shifting narrative voices and non chronological paragraphs just jumping out of nowhere, which, personally spoiled the reading experience. At times I was quite frustrated at this as I felt like the author couldn’t get her message across so strongly. (as it is a very angry novel) However there are some genuinely funny moments and the bawdiness helped me progress throughout the book (In fact I woke up at 2am to read a couple of pages and ended up finishing it at 5am) So it’s a strangely addictive novel but if the writing style was a bit more accessible I would have enjoyed it much more.