Other than Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk, Turkish literature isn't widely known or readily available in the U.S., so I was pleased to see this latest entry in Akashic's Noir series. Fourteen of the sixteen stories are by established Turkish writers, none of whom have never had their work translated into English before. As in the other books in this series, the stories are divided into four sections ("Lust & Vengeance", " Pushing Limits, Crossing Lines", "In the Dark Recesses", "Grief * Grievances") to no obvious purpose or effect.
While I more or less enjoyed most of the stories as I read them, by the end they had mostly run together in a blur of typical noir tropes, and I was left with more of a mood or tone than anything else. When I went back to read the introduction, I saw that the mood had a name: "huzun" -- and connotes a kind of melancholy heaviness of spirit. That struck me as a rare case of an introduction actually being quite accurate in defining the underlying spirit of the book. I suppose my problem was that there wasn't enough variation in that tone between stories. Unlike most anthologies, I couldn't, at the end, point at two or three authors whose voice caught my attention and made me want to seek out more of their work.
The two stories that did stick out were the two by non-Turks: Jessica Lutz's "All Quiet" and Lydia Lunch's "The Spirit of Philosophical Vitriol." The former is a well-done fictionalization of a real-life underground Islamic group, the latter is a terrible waste of time and space. It's a totally gratuitous, obvious, lame pseudo-feminist revenge fantasy with zero connection to Istanbul and I have no idea how it made it into this collection. Another factor that might explain the relative similarity is that the Turkish authors being pretty much all belong the same generation (I think all except one were born within the same mid-1960s to mid-1970s span), and thus sharing a great deal of the same history and experience. So, on the whole, I'd suggest dipping into this for a taste of Turkey, but don't expect to much.
Readers interested in modern Turkish crime novels should check out Mehmet Murat Somer's three books: The Prophet Murders, The Kiss Murder, and The Gigolo Murder. Other new writing from Turkey available in English includes Selcuk Altun's Istanbul-set Songs My Mother Never Taught Me and Emine Sevgi Özdamar's Berlin-set The Bridge of the Golden Horn and Moris Farhi's A Designated Man.