Turkish writer Atilgan's classic 1973 novel about alienation, obsession, and precipitous decline, nimbly translated by Stark.
Zeberjet is the owner of the Motherland Hotel, formerly his ancestral home in Izmir, Turkey. Defined less by his nebulous personality than the invariable order of his days, he rises at 6 a.m., takes tea with one lump at 7, visits the barber every four weeks, the public bath every six months, and violates the hotel's charwoman on a near-nightly basis—until the night an alluring woman from Ankara stops in on the way to her village. Though her stay is brief and the conversation minimal, Zeberjet's obsession takes hold while he keeps her room just as she left it and visits nightly, the details of their interaction repeatedly intruding on his thoughts. When he accidentally drops and shatters her teacup, he believes all chance of her returning destroyed along with it, leaving him free to plummet into complete debasement. Later, enraged at his own impotence, Zeberjet murders the charwoman, along with her cat, whereafter he dreams of being put on trial, not for the murder of his employee, but her pet, as his attorney winks, putting a tidy point on the treatment of women all around him. As his life narrows to exclude all but compulsion and dissimulation, he wafts through town as we slip in and out of his turbulent stream-of-consciousness, snippets of conversation drifting in and sticking to his jumbled thoughts, mixing with memory, fantasy, and family history. Everywhere he goes, Zeberjet encounters another crime, in fact or in retelling, recent or ancient, woven into the very fabric that makes up his world, and is "embarrassed, ashamed actually, before all those people who thought of themselves as innocent, who failed to realize that only crime—some kind of crime—could keep you alive on this earth."
An unsettling study of a mind, steeped in violence, dropping off the edge of reason.