Praise for Endgame
“Although it offers an implicit critique of Turkey’s corrupt justice system, Endgame is also comic and charmingly absurd, largely due to the reckless efforts of its characters to get even.”
—The Washington Post
“Existential questions perfectly blended with atmosphere and rat-a-tat prose; highly recommended.”
—Library Journal (Starred Review)
"A gripping existential thriller in the vein of Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games (2006)."
"Atlan's work is at once atmospheric and distant [...]. Each of the threads are artfully crafted and do come together nicely by the end, as promised. Altan's characters are, at times, difficult to penetrate, but his story is pointed, enigmatic, and difficult to forget."
"Endgame is a rare beast: a mystery adventure in the age of internet, of such intimately written humanity that it transcends genre, time and place. If Steinbeck had written The Godfather it might have read like this."
—DBC Pierre, author of Vernon God Little
"Endgame is deeply political. It is populated by characters who try to grab that hypothetical treasure on the hill and in so doing tear their local paradise apart. Altan has a deep understanding of what drives them on. It is all very serious but also great fun."
"A deeply compelling and immersive narrative about love, desire, loneliness and landscape. Ahmet Altan is one of the foremost voices in Turkish literature and has much to say to the world."
—Elif Shafak, author of The Bastard of Istanbul and The Architect's Apprentice
"Altan pushes the tropes of detective fiction into existentialist territory."
—The New Yorker, Briefly Noted
"An impassioned, captivating dance, a waltz between death and desire that does not release you for even a single moment."
—Philippe Sands, author of East West Street
"Endgame is a complex and immensely readable book—insightful, disturbing, irritating and riveting."
—Andrea Wulf, author of the Invention of Nature
"Extraordinary, delicious, wise."
—Linn Ullmann, author of The Cold Song
Stylish, inventive, and deliciously dark, Altan's U.S. debut is both an absorbing thriller and an intensive novel of ideas; no wonder he's an award-winning and best-selling author in his native Turkey. The nameless narrator, a lackluster novelist, impulsively abandons city life for a small coastal town and falls immediately for the beautiful, evasive Zuhal, whose former lover is the all-powerful mayor. The village looks placid enough, but there's menace beneath the surface; the townsfolk avoid him, mafia-style killings are prevalent, and a buried treasure on the hill beckons. The mayor has his own reasons for befriending the narrator, who is soon drawn into a venture that spirals violently out of his control. Meanwhile, comparisons abound between novelists and God, who can get away with a lot more, and we're left wondering if we are in control of our lives the way the novelist is in control of his characters. VERDICT Existential questions perfectly blended with atmosphere and rat-a-tat prose; highly recommended.
A jaded crime novelist retires to a Turkish village on the brink of civil war.The clichés of noir literature are infamously tricky to navigate, and many of those archetypes and tropes surface in this elegant crime novel by Turkish journalist and author Altan, his first to be translated into English. Thankfully, the author uses both characters and devices to marvelous effect, creating a hallucinatory fiction that reads as much like The Stranger (1942) as it does The Godfather (1969). It begins with a man admitting he has just murdered someone. From there, our nameless narrator (a crime writer, naturally) spins a dizzying tale about the small Turkish village where he enters semiretirement. A world-weary, womanizing writer is a well-worn chestnut, but Altan breathes life into his virile hero with interesting flaws. Taking his place as the "coffeehouse sage" of the village, the writer quickly becomes enmeshed by its internal strife. He falls in love with Zuhal, a woman whose heart belongs to the corrupt mayor, Mustafa Gürz. This doesn't stop him from dallying with Kamile (the femme fatale wife of a local crime boss) or frequenting the bedroom of Sümbül (a prostitute with a heart of gold). It's a town laden with gang violence, much of it sparked by the rumor of a Roman treasure buried underneath a Christian church. "It might seem strange to an outsider but after living in the town for long enough you got used to the killing and the fact that certain killers go free," Altan writes. "It even begins to seem natural for them to shoot each other in broad daylight." The book isn't without flaws—Altan is enamored with internet chats between our hero and Zuhal, and readers seeking a traditional whodunit may be left wanting. But readers looking for a contemplative, twisty thriller will find this one unique and satisfying. A gripping existential thriller in the vein of Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games (2006).