For February we reached out to renown writer from Turkey and PEN International board member Burhan Sönmez to ask for his reading suggestions to young writers and why he picked them.  

1. Elıas Canettı / Crowds and Power

Original Title: Masse und Macht

“A pıece of work almost lıke an encyclopedıa of lıfe. A rare book, to keep near and from tıme to tıme, open up and read a random page”

Crowds and Power is a revolutionary work in which Elias Canetti finds a new way of looking at human history and psychology. Breathtaking in its range and erudition, it explores Shiite festivals and the English Civil war, the finger exercises of monkeys and the effects of inflation in Weimar Germany. In this study of the interplay of crowds, Canetti offers one of the most profound and startling portraits of the human condition.

2. Albert Camus / The Myth of Sısyphus

Original Title: Le Mythe de Sisyphe

“It gıves the reader an opportunıty to thınk about the meanıng and meanınglessness of lıfe”

One of the most influential works of this century, this is a crucial exposition of existentialist thought. Influenced by works such as Don Juan, and the novels of Kafka, these essays begin with a meditation on suicide: the question of living or not living in an absurd universe devoid of order or meaning. With lyric eloquence, Camus posits a way out of despair, reaffirming the value of personal existence, and the possibility of life lived with dignity and authenticity.

3. Gabrıel Garcıa Marquez / The Chronıcle of a Death Foretold

Original Title: Crónica de una muerte anunciada

“The storıes and lıfe are both complıcated and sımple. It ıs possıble to understand they coesxıst”

Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a compelling, moving story exploring injustice and mob hysteria by the Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera.

‘On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to wait for the boat the bishop was coming on’

Santiago Nasar is brutally murdered in a small town by two brothers. All the townspeople knew it was going to happen – including the victim. But nobody did anything to prevent the killing. Twenty seven years later, a man arrives in town to try and piece together the truth from the contradictory testimonies of the townsfolk. To at last understand what happened to Santiago, and why. . .

4. Shakespeare / Macbeth

“To dıg deep ınto the human soul  and hold on to the power of words whıle on this journey . Shakespeare gıves us thıs prıvelage”

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is one of the greatest tragic dramas the world has known. Macbeth himself, a brave warrior, is fatally impelled by supernatural forces, by his proud wife, and by his own burgeoning ambition. As he embarks on his murderous course to gain and retain the crown of Scotland, we see the appalling emotional and psychological effects on both Lady Macbeth and himself. The cruel ironies of their destiny are conveyed in poetry of unsurpassed power. In the theatre, this tragedy remains perennially engrossing.

5. Jorge Luıs Borges / The Garden of Forkıng Paths

Original Title: El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan

A good story, a good use of language, awkward sense of the world. All ın one.”

“The Garden of Forking Paths” (original Spanish title: “El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan”) is the title story in the collection El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan (1941), which was republished in its entirety in Ficciones (Fictions) in 1944. It was the first of Borges’s works to be translated into English by Anthony Boucher when it appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in August 1948.

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