Sait Faik Abasıyanık’s “The Shrimpmonger’s House”

 

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Sait Faik Abasıyanık is known as a master of the short story, sometimes called the Turkish Chekhov.

This is a chapter from a 1951 novella called A Cloud in the Sky. The title refers to a Turkish expression meaning, essentially, forget about it.It portrays the city as seen by a man from the Marmara island of Burgaz (Sait Faik’s home) as he wanders through Istanbul, unable to take his mind off a young Greek girl he visits in the slums. He sits in taverns, stands on streetcorners, his mind circling back to the girl. Other chapters describe a pimp, a fortuneteller, sex workers drawing water from a neighborhood well, a cake shop where gamblers gather. “The Shrimpmonger’s House” describes the bedroom he rents from a poor Greek family to spend time with the girl.

Clauses pile up rhythmically, episodes repeat, characters drift in and out; there are subtle ambiguities in nearly every sentence. The troubled sexuality is always clouded by Sait Faik’s own passions (gay, bisexual – something that can’t be expressed openly). This ambiguity folds in on itself as the same scene plays out from different angles, slowly building an intimate picture of the city at its time.

The translation is here:

The Shrimpmonger’s House

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