The Well of Trapped Words
Book type: Short Story Collection
Published: 25 Jun 2015
Translated by Maureen Freely.
The characters in Sema Kaygusuz’s stories often burn with a conviction only they possess: an old man wakes from a dream one morning with a vision of where water can be found after years of drought; a grandmother claims she regularly entertains a snake in her yard, who tells her stories in a language only she understands; a woman responds to the death of her auntie by insisting she hasn’t really died… Elsewhere, it is a darker secret these characters’ carry, one that can only be revealed through a process of profound metamorphosis – either literally, like the reclusive old man who begins to acquire injuries he claims he’s always had, or in terms of their revealed histories, as their past is peeled away, layer after layer.
Blending mysticism and modernity, Kaygusuz’s stories demonstrate why she is regarded as one of the most promising writers in Turkey today.
"[Sema Kaygusuz] has a bluntness which tends to both quicken the pace but also turns the mystical into direct observations." - Asian Review.
"The Well of Trapped Words is a testament to the power of storytelling." - 'Book of the Month' for Ann Morgan, author of the blog A Year of Reading the World.
"I loved every page." - Irish Times.
“With diaphanous, almost transparent language, Kaygusuz transforms each narrative into a dazzling, dream-like folktale. Her incantations seem to whistle around our ears, as if picked up by swirling winds.” – André Clavel in Lire.
"Over the course of just 150 pages we get a kind of miniature kaleidoscope of Turkish society. Most of the stories are elusive snapshots that bear rereading, with enough room for the reader to breathe without being spoon-fed." - Hurriyet Daily News.
"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." - The Skinny.
"With a touch of magical realism, her short stories take the reader on journeys from houses with snakes to women who dream of flying." - Manchester Review.