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Berji Kristin: Tales from the Garbage Hills
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on July 13, 2000
Latife Tekin tells the incredible story of a group of rural migrants who build a shantytown in a garbage dump and their experiences in trying to adapt to urban life. A nameless narrator recounts the abstract history of the garbage hills from the point of view of a removed observer, which leaves plenty of room for Tekin's characters to take center stage. Although the inhabitants of the shantytown are simple folk, their stories are told in such rich language that even the most mundane events in their lives stir emotion. Tekin presents the hill dwellers as ignorant victims of the changes swirling around them. Their exploitation by outsiders (factory bosses and politicians) and their manipulation by one of their own (a Muslim cleric) are among many tales the author weaves with poetic language and wry wit. No specific dates or places (other than the hills and their immediate vicinity) are mentioned, but the setting and pace of the novel roughly coincide with that of the massive growth of shantytowns and factories on Istanbul's outskirts during the 1970s. Ruth Cristie and Salina Paker have done an excellent job in keeping the author's flowery prose intact in the English translation, but Tekin's constant use of metaphors may loose readers who are not well grounded in Turkish culture.
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