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National Lists

Tutunamayanlar (The Losers)


by Oğuz Atay

Summary of the book:  The young engineer Turgut Özben investigates the reasons behind his close friend Selim Işik’s suicide.  People close to Selim Işik pool their knowledge to shed light on the unknown aspects of his life. In his last days, Selim was assembling an “encyclopedia of losers” wherein he had reserved an entry for himself.  The encyclopedia proves helpful in revealing self-knowledge to Turgut Özben.  In the course of his investigation: he too is a loser, or a perennial nobody; to date he has been going through the motions of habit and ritual.  He makes a clean break, leaves home, and boards a train never to be seen again.

Reasons for this choice:  Probably the most eminent novel of twentieth-century Turkish literature, a work that won high critical acclaim and popular following, Tutunamayanlar offers an endless series of tragicomic observations, an expansive and critical panorama of Turkish manners, attitudes and clichés through a profound sense of irony, parody, dark humor and existential questioning.  Although it poses an earnest challenge to even the most skilled translator with its kaleidoscope of colloquialisms and sheer size (nearly 700 pages), it represents Turkish literature at its best.  Its translation into the wide-known language of the world is a must.
First publication: 1971-1972 - (two volumes); current edition: 2002 (27th printing)


Rights holder: the publisher

Editor(s) Iletisim Yayinlari, Istanbul
Publication Date 2002
Buy this book at copies can be obtained upon request