From an “exceptionally sensitive and perceptive” Turkish writer and human rights activist (Orhan Pamuk, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature), the captivating story of a writer whose own autobiographical novel forces her to come to terms with the dichotomy of the city she once loved: Rio de Janeiro.
Özgür is a young woman on fire: poor, hungry, and on the verge of a mental breakdown. She has only one weapon: her ability to write the city that has robbed her of everything, Rio de Janeiro. Through the reading of the bits and pieces of Özgür’s unfinished eponymous novel, with its autobiographical protagonist named Ö, Özgür’s story begins to emerge.
As Özgür follows Ö through the shanty towns, Condomble rituals, and the violence and sexuality of the streets of Rio, the reader follows Özgür as she searches for a way to make peace with life, a route to catharsis. Together, the two concentric novels reveal the blurry borderline between the two Rio’s — one a metaphor for death, one a city of life. A major hit when it was released in Turkey and Europe, The City in Crimson Cloak is brilliantly evocative and wildly experimental, doing for Rio what Joyce did for Dublin.
In language both limpid and lyrical, Asli Erdoğan perfectly delineates the distance between [the protagonist] and the foreign city . . . It’s the Brazilian street which rules this novel with the romantic savagery of the favela and the bandit, its love of life, its roughness, its disgust . . .
Asli Erdoğan’s hands touch the human heart. Some of her sentences are verses of poetry . . . saturated with the bitter juice of life. Read this novel slowly, take your time, otherwise, you will be overwhelmed by the crossfire of images and metaphors.
The description in Asli Erdogan’s novel is breathtaking. The work is so much like its setting. Deep. Complicated. Raw. Difficult. Musical. I never wanted to leave a scene yet I couldn’t wait for the next. This is a truly fine book.
Turkish Pepper, Brazilian Heat: [B]eyond a doubt the best I have reviewed this autumn. Overwhelming . . . . In the same way that Dublin and Joyce belong together, or Praha and Kafka, for me from now on Rio will be inextricably bound together with the name Asli Erdoğan. With this volume she writes herself into the dominant tradition of the last century’s novels: the novel of the city.