eng, Kitaplar

Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson

Türkçesi ve daha fazlası için buraya/ For Turkish and More

Hello Everyone

Have you ever heard about Gwendolyn Willow Wilson ?

She is the writer of New muslim Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) printed in 2014. The first three volumes of this comic book translated in Turkish, and of course I’ve read it and liked it so much. I especially liked the Kamala because I related her so much, so I’ve searched the writer to check whether she has other books or works. As a result I’ve found this book. But putting my hands on this book is another story. I could not find this book which Turkish publishing rights belongs to Monokl* punlishing house and when I give in I found its English version. Before reading they back of the book, I bought it even though it is expensive. Beacuse why not ? This is one of the books I bought only for its writer and actually I am quiet happy about it.

On our way back home, I read books back and saw an interesting word “djinn” and I started to think is this what I am thinking. Next to it says Islamic mythhology and I thought this is definetely what I am thinking. I am scared of course. I put this book on library and did not touch it for several months, even years. Later on I searched this book on the internet, read many reviews, even found a fanart contest for this book, I was quiet shocked. I got my courage together and said “many people read it and nothing happened to them, so it is, it might be ok” to myself and read it, finally.

Now you may think I am overexaggerating but let’s be serious here. Please check Turkish horror movie titles and see what is the common feature. I was and still afraid of those kind of movies, even though I watched some in my high school years. Also I am raised in Islamic culture. So fearing of them is so natural for me. If you told me you would read a book whose one of the main characters is a genie/djinn/three letter guys, I’d laugh a lot.

Two years later, I found Turkish copy and bought it as expected, because Turkish version had an interesting preface, some related pictures and finally writers notes about writing process which were not included the English version I had. Another interesting anecdote, I’ve finished English version of this book on Metrobus on my way to famous bookfair, and I did the same on Turkish version too. Because I am sucker for books and bookfairs.

Let’s get on our book, protoganist of this book is a hacker who thinks himself as a long thin line in this life so he calls himself Alif. He is male which funny and misleading in my country because Elif is a very common female name here. This is not his actual name though, which is revealed at the end of the book, but he uses this name because it is a custom among hackers to use nickname or actually it is reality of the internet. He is an Arabian-Indian half-blood little tempered, maniac computer whiz who likes to read fantastic books. Also he suffers pangs of love and he frustrates societys cruel cultural norms and rules. He is pretty relatable in any case you see.

Our main hero, Alif, lives in an imaginary Middle Eastern city next to Persian gulf and you my guess that citys govern system sucks and government use fear to govern its people(that’s where we, reader, sense Arabian Springs winds). Of course people wouldn’t just obey, they revolt but in the virtual reality. Hundreds of youngters hates censors and censorship emirates started, and they fought with it. Eventually and unfortunately those brave young hackers found themselves on emirates smelly jails. Recently someone or something named “the Hand” mixes in this fight and the things become more scarier than ever and everyone feels “the Hand” is coming closer. But close or near, it’s presence is not a problem for hackers who love their job, right ?

Meanwhile, Alif is loving a ruler-class, upper-class %100 Arabic girl named Intisar but Intisar hasn’t responded Alif’s messages for weeks. Hardly they arranged a meeting and Alif learns that Intisar is engaged a ruler class, %100 Arabic man who works for the emirates. Intisar asks Alif to forget her and if it is possible never see to each other again.

one of my first watercolor paintings as well as fanarts.

Alif, whose world crumbled on him, thinks “so you’ll never wanna see me again huh? so you do not want to reach me again HUH? YOU definetely, definetely WILL gurl” and he begins to code a programme which identifies a person through his/her writing style, his/her choice of words and after the identification, block his/her ultimately. He calls this programme Tin Sari and program begins it’s data collection process. But before coding this programme, Alif does not forget sending the sheet they spent quality time on to Intisar, just like any other raged teenager lovers do.

The sheet was sent to Intisar by his neighbour and childhood friend Dina. Dina, a beautiful Egyptian girl could not refuse Alifs request of sending the box to rich side of the city where she dos not very fond of. Also Dina is the cutest character of the book, she likes reading books, singing and fidelity.

A few days later, Dina is looking for Alif with a box in her hands. Meanwhile Alif is about the find who the, what the Hand is. Dina says the box is from Intisar. When they open the box they found a very very old book called “Alf Yeom”(a thousand days). When they go back to their home, they see guys with glasses who isn’t seem local to Bakara district where they live. Alif feels like the Hand find him and he begins to run with Dina with the mysterious book Intisar sent. They should run and unravel the mysteries of the book and find a way to get rid of the hand and censorship.

This task is not easy to begin with, also Alif is unparalleled in screwing around, so he needs to get help from someone or something. They begin to pursue the rumour of “Vikram the Vampire”, because according to rumour Vampire Vikram is powerful and in if he is paid well, he can protect someone from anything. Dina says she used to play calling Vikram game in her childhood. Adventures, adventures after, they found Vikram. At first Vikram refuse them, but later the book they possess interests him. He agrees to help them and research for the book.

I am stopping telling the book and pilot here. I hope book attracted you as much as did for me, and you may give a chance to read it. From now on I am gonna write some notes about the book, many of them SPOILER ALERT.

“Dear child, some stories have no morals. Sometimes darkness and madness are simply that.”

“How terrible,” said Farukhuaz.

“Do you think so? I find it reassuring. It saves me from having to divine meaning in every sorrow that comes my way.”

Alif the Unseen

  • The books title translated just “Alif” in Turkish. Translators cut the “the Unseen” part to make the book more attractive for adult readers. I think this was unnecessary because, considering hackers work style and Alifs affiliation with unseen people.
  • The Turkish translation of the book was generally good, but I prefer the original. Turkish translator added more info about the some Arabic, Indian words and explained some references which I am glad. But he gave some direct readings of Arabic words English pronunciation in Turkish which is quiet funny for me who knows a little Arabic.
  • By the way, it is a great pleasure to read the same book in two different languages. I had a lot of fun while reading the original, but I have noticed many details while reading it on my own language.
  • And while we are on the translation, the book has many good quotes and jokes about translations. To quote “…All tranlations are made up,” opined Vikram, “Languages are different for a reason. You can’t move ideas between them without loing something. The Arabs are the only ones who’ve figured this out. They have the sense to call non- Arabic versions of the Criterion interpretations, not translations.” “So the French translation,” said Alif, that doesn’t qualify as a real version of the Alf Yeom ?” Vikram gave him a disgusted look. “Is anything real in French?” he asked…”
  • When we take a look at authors life, we see someone who is raised in an atheist family, loves reading fantastic books, takes Arabic Language and Literature as a major in university and begins to interested in Islam then converted into Islam, lives in Egypt for a while. And now she is working in comics industry(DC & Marvel). We can find or sense her between the lines of her works. I want to read all of them.
  • There is a character called the Convert who is an American curious book searcher. I lke to believe this character is either the author herself or inspired from her. She is pretty relatale because she is concerning about how she could not make others, the community accept her, because she is a foreigner.
  • Also author is really really relatable person. I’ve encountered similar situations like her. Also she runs a Tumblr blog.
  • In the book there was a segment where author compares Eastern and Western literature through Vikram and that part was awesome.
  • While mentioning his name, the character “Vikram” or “Vikram the Vampire” or “Vetala Vikram” is adapted from Indian Literature, Vikramaditya .
  • Furthermore Vikram appears in her latest book. Of course events are from thousands of years. I want to read that book so much.
  • The book our characters searching is the book whose full name is “One Thounsand and One Days”. I wrote it right, it is not “1001 nights”(actually this book also appears later on). This book is seriously exists and belongs to Persian Literature. In the Nights, Schecherazade tells stories to Shahryar to prove faithful women exists, women are also clever, and not to kill her. Whereas In the Days, the beautiful princess Farukhuaz does not want marry due to her nightmare and her nurse tries to convince her to otherwise through telling stories. Scheherazades stories begins at night and continues till the dawn, while the nurses stories begins at morning and continues till the night.
  • Probably, my favorite parts of the book are quotes from One Thousand Days. I especially liked King and Vetala Vikram story.
  • My favorite character from the book is definetely Vikram and I still believe his end would be better. Actually it is a great end, but still bittersweet.
  • Other characters I like are NewQuarter, Sheikh Bilal, the Convert, Dina, Azalel and our troublemaker Alif.
  • There is a part takes place in the jail of the book, and that part is seriously chilling for me. I hope that is the place where molesters go.
  • Some parts of the book take place in the Land of Djinn. I am big fun of imagery and descriptions of that place.
  • And also there was a part in the book where Alif offers Intisar to run to Turkey. I am confused whether I should be proud or say you get the Turkey all wrong. I prefer to be proud.
  • Actually this book is full of many good points from womens education to burning books, metaphors to technology, society to freedom and so on. I highly recommend reading this book to anyone, but fantastic lovers should not missed it.

Have nice days full of books


P.s: sorry for any grammar mistakes. As I mentioned before English is not my L1, also translation is hard. But I tried my best. While writing in another language I notice, my personality changes, I feel I am more confident in English, and timid in Turkish

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