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A Useless Man

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About the Author

Sait Faik's career marked a fascinating moment in Turkish culture in the 1930s and 40s when the secular, post-Ottoman sensibility placed new demands on the writing of literature. Turkish critics and readers regard him as their finest short story writer, a Turkish Chekhov. While Sait Faik was a talented poet, he preferred the mode of fiction, and his intuitive sense for poetry pervades his stories. Like Chekhov, Sait Faik's characters come to life on the page--we meet Armenian fishermen, Greek Orthodox priests, and the disillusioned and disenfranchised, their complicated emotions, thoughts, and conditions, without ever compromising the full range of their humanity.

About the Translators-

Alex Dawe has co-translated with Maureen Freely Tanpinar's The Time Regulation Institute, for which he won a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant. Maureen Freely is an American journalist, novelist, professor, and translator. She is a contributor to The Guardian, The Independent, and Cornucopia, and is the author of The Life of the Party and The Other Rebecca. She is best known for having translated Orhan Pamuk's recent novels- The Black Book, Snow, The Museum of Innocence, and others.


"Sait Faik's best stories combine...innocence with a profound intelligence, showing that people also bring sadness, disappointment, rivalry, frustration and confusion. He should certainly be better known among English readers and this volume is a good place to start... His work is full of humanistic portrayals of laborers, fishermen, children, tradesmen, the unemployed, the of the best loved writers in Turkey." -- William Armstrong, Hurriyet Daily News

"Part of the charm of Sait Faik Abasiyanik, who wrote almost 200 short stories in two decades before his premature death in 1954, is the way he floated above the fray of his turbulent times. This new selection of tales is welcome.... His stories bear multiple readings... they are elliptical, fragmentary, defined mostly by what is left unsaid; they never outstay their welcome.... 'The Silk Handkerchief' [is] a poignant masterpiece of concision." -- The Times Literary Supplement "It's heartbreaking and tender.... Masterly storytelling, beautifully translated." -- The Irish Times "[S]uperbly translated. . . evocative and nostalgic without ever being saccharine. . . Like quality chocolates, each story is worth pausing over to savor the nuances, wondering about the hints and where they lead. . . Elliptical and unexpected, sometimes lyrical, sometimes earthy, using elementary language and a stark, Chekhovian simplicity, these loving tributes to the unnoticed loners on the margins of life reveal the world through Sait Faik's eyes in all its brutality and loneliness and beauty." --Nick DiMartino, University Book Store, in Shelf Awareness "This fascinating collection of short stories from Turkey portray a world of the ordinary and mundane but in such a way as to stimulate the reader's imagination and leave them wanting more. Each story is like a snapshot in time and the evocative description and slightly mysterious subject matter leaves behind a sense that we have scratched the surface of a vast and private world that we can only ever experience through reading... these stories inspire, amuse and move in equal measure... this is a privileged glimpse into lives unknown and worlds rarely visited. Wonderful." -- Booktrust "Abasiyanik's status as a Turkish national treasure is utterly unsurprising. Chekhov-like in his ability to create sweet, poignant moments from the mundane and melancholy, Abasiyanik is able to fashion even a mother's death into a comforting embrace... Abasiyanik's prose is never heavy-handed, as he expertly invokes the colours, smells and tastes of his native Turkey." -- Totally Dublin "These are stories that are not so much unputdownable as unpindownable. Briefer and more open-ended than Chekhov, earthier than Borges and Kafka, less penetrating than Katherine Mansfield and D H Lawrence - yet as beguiling as all of them... It isn't always easy to get a handle on these stories, but it is not difficult at all to be lulled and entranced by their strangeness." -- The National (UAE)
"...beautifully paced and glows with affection for the sights and sounds of working class Istanbul... one of Turkey's most revered writers... Engrossing and curiously refreshing, Sait Faik opens magical doors to Istanbul as it stood back in the early twentieth century, with its colourful array of prostitutes, barflys and musicians who frequented its coffee and tea houses and drinking dens." -- RTE Ten
(Ireland) "[S]ince I have come into possession of Abasiyanik's Stories
, I have found myself pursuing loosely structured goals in the region just as an excuse to hop on a train an

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