Life's Good, Brother: A Novel


A contemporary international classic, available in English for the first time.
Hikmet's final book—an autobiographical novel about a man who is imprisoned for being a Communist, his friends, and the women he loved. Considered to be a major work in his oeuvre. This is the first publication in English translation.

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Life's Good, Brother: A Novel

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A contemporary international classic, available in English for the first time.
Hikmet's final book—an autobiographical novel about a man who is imprisoned for being a Communist, his friends, and the women he loved. Considered to be a major work in his oeuvre. This is the first publication in English translation.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Initially published in Turkey in 1964, this novel by one of the country’s greatest poets portrays a chaotic time between wars in justifiably haphazard fashion. It’s 1925, and young communists Ahmet and Ismail have cached themselves in a cottage in the small town of Izmir. Ahmet’s paranoid cousin, a former member of the Young Turks, arrives, bringing with him memories of the Great Fire of Smyrna three years prior, when Izmir burned to the ground, effectively ending the Greco-Turkish War. During an excursion, Ahmet is bitten by a potentially rabid dog but refuses to seek treatment. While he imagines a 50% chance of getting rabies, “the chance the doctor will inform the police is one hundred percent.” So Ahmet stays put, counting days in anticipation of the sickness. Throughout this ordeal, the narrative skips around in time and voice. We hear of Ahmet’s student days in Moscow, his affection for a woman, and the rivalry with her other suitor, a Chinese student. We also learn of Ismail’s later ordeal as a political prisoner, the vivid details of which are the book’s strongest feature. Although reflective of the turbulent era, the back-and-forth structure weakens narrative cohesion, especially considering how little there is to distinguish the inner lives of the characters. However, many graceful gems outweigh the faults, making it worth the time. (May)

Hikmet’s commitment to accessibility ensures that the novel is never obscure or confusing, despite sparingly shifting between first- and third-person narration…like cutting from medium-shot to close-up or vice versa, that alters our emotional perspective on the characters.

James Burt - ForeWard Reviews

...a written gift of memory and experience. ...The personal reflections are humorous, the experimental delivery is exciting, and the drama is always profound. One would be hard pressed to find a similar personal reflection on the printed page that reaches such poetic heights.

Orhan Pamuk - Radikal (Istanbul) of the first and most important 'European' novels written in Turkey: its horizons are not limited to the national issues of Turkey, it explores the basic values of life, and its heroes live cosmopolitan lives.

William Armstrong - Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey)

…the crowning achievement of the monumental poet's late exile years…. a kind of fictionalized autobiography….Hikmet… simultaneously tell[s] one man's story and the story of a whole generation, artistically uniting his earlier struggles with those of his contemporaries.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892554188
  • Publisher: Persea Books
  • Publication date: 8/5/2013
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,524,730
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nazim Hikmet is considered Turkey's greatest modern poet. For his Communist views, he was imprisoned in Turkey and his work was banned. His poetry has been translated into more than fifty languages. He won the World Peace Prize (the USSR's equivalent of the Nobel) in 1950. He died in 1963 in exile.

Mutlu Konuk Blasing, a native of Istanbul, is Professor of English at Brown University. Her books include Lyric Poetry: The Pain and the Pleasure of Words. She is the co-translator (with Randy Blasing) of the renowned English translations of Nazim Hikmet, and the author of four scholarly books on American poetry.

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