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Berji Kristin


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Drawing on the testimony of squatters crammed into makeshift dwellings on the outskirts of Istanbul in the 1960s, Turkish author Tekin paints a fictional portrait of destitute people who literally create a community on a refuse heap. The story of Flower Hill, as the community comes to be called, encapsulates the development of civilization: the inhabitants evolve from exploited workers in unsafe, toxin-emitting factories into union strikers battling the police, from unacknowledged squatters into townspeople whose community is at least nominally given regard by those who wield power in the outside world. Among the more interesting personalities are Gullu Baba, Flower Hill's oldest and wisest resident; Fidan of Many Skills, who teaches women the art of lovemaking; and, most colorful of all, Lado the gambler. Few of the characters are this compelling, however, and Tekin may turn off some readers with a nearly dialogue-free narrative whose metaphorical prose has more in common with that of fairy tales than with the language of conventionally realistic fiction. The later chapters contain the best episodes, but most readers will tire of the effort long before. (Sept.)

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