BERJI KRISTIN by Latife Tekin


Tales from the Garbage Hills
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 Evocations of contemporary urban life on the margins--in a first US publication from Turkish novelist Tekin. Like the Garbage Hills of her setting, Tekin's story contains within itself layers of meaning and action: the tales are based on an actual fact of modern Turkish cities but also offer a wry and sympathetic account of life in marginal communities, as well as a quiet but insistent indictment of the callous manner in which such people are exploited. Flocking to the city in search of jobs, Tekin's poor and unskilled set up homes on the hills where the city's garbage is dumped. They build huts with whatever castoffs they can find; then one snowy night their first flimsy roofs of cloth and paper are torn away by the wind, and babies in cradles are dumped hundreds of yards away--an event that, like so much of what happens here, immediately gives rise to song and legend. Other disasters follow, as factories move in and pollute the water and air, and as strikes divide the community. Meanwhile, there are characters like feisty Fidan; Crazy Gonul, acknowledged as the group's first whore; ``Liverman,'' a storyteller by night and a seller of liver by day; and blind Gullu Baba, who makes predictions about the future of Flower Hill, the new and deeply ironic name for the settlement. Rumors of ``Anarchists,'' the power of the polluted blue water, and the strange, sinister factory a Mr. Izak establishes abound. Life seems to improve as the huts become more permanent and the women find work in the factories, but new squatters are moving in, establishing seedy nightclubs, and just- fired workers threaten violence--a reminder that there can be no happy ending for Garbage Hills, or indeed anywhere else. By using traditional storytelling techniques, Tekin seamlessly marries the timelessness of marginal lives with their contemporary manifestation. An accomplished debut.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-7145-2944-3
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Marion Boyars
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1992