Stone and Shadow: A Novel (Paperback)
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This gorgeous, haunting saga tells the story of modern Turkey and its diverse communities through the life of a gravestone maker.
In the city of Mardin, near Turkey’s border with Syria, the orphaned Avdo finds purpose when an old mason takes him on as an apprentice. From Master Josef, he learns the importance of their art, which looks after the dead and bears witness to their lives. Avdo then travels the country and meets a woman he loves wholeheartedly, only to lose her through a tragic crime. Resigned to a lonely existence, he retreats from the world into his cemetery workshop, but even there, life, with all its sorrows, joys, injustices, and gifts, draws him in unexpected directions.
An intimate, indelible epic, Stone and Shadow melds fragments not only from twentieth-century Turkish history, but also from the Ottoman Empire, the wider Middle East, and Europe. Together they form a breathtaking picture of a rich, complex society that encompasses Christians, Sunni Muslims, Alawites, Turks, Kurds, and Armenians.
About the Author
Burhan Sönmez is the author of five novels, which have been published in more than thirty languages. He was born in Turkey and grew up speaking Turkish and Kurdish. He worked as a lawyer in Istanbul before going into political exile in Britain. Sönmez’s writing has appeared in such publications as The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, and La Repubblica. His previous novel, Labyrinth, was published by Other Press in 2019. He was elected President of PEN International in 2021.
Alexander Dawe has translated several contemporary Turkish novels and screenplays. In collaboration with Maureen Freely he has translated A Useless Man: Selected Stories by Sait Faik Abasıyanık; The Time Regulation Institute by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, which received the MLA Lois Roth Award; and Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali. He lives and works in Istanbul.
“[An] expansive, dreamy, richly allusive novel…An enthralling, multidimensional epic from a leading figure on fiction’s world stage.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Following the enchanting and heartbreaking life of a gravestone cutter, Sönmez masterfully deploys the unique historical condition of modern Turkey to plumb the depths of identity and memory, asking what treasures are lost and what political conveniences are gained by the act of collective forgetting. With this book, he has eroded the boundaries of epochs, lands, languages, and even bodies, collapsing time into a beguiling and provocative coil. These freighted characters are a resounding belief in a hopeful if unnamable infinity.” —Kenan Orhan, author of I Am My Country: And Other Stories
“The longing and grace of Avdo, our gravestone cutter, as he navigates life through the complex and capricious political realities of twentieth-century Turkey make for an ambitious and thought-provoking novel. Pieces of different characters’ histories and desires span generations and governments to form a heartbreaking story.” —Marjan Kamali, author of The Stationery Shop and Together Tea
“This is storytelling with the precision of a poem and the scale of an epic. Stone and Shadow is a novel as multitudinous as Turkey, as wide and deep as life itself.” —Ayşe Papatya Bucak, author of The Trojan War Museum: and Other Stories