A Mind at Peace by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, trans. from the Turkish by Erdag Göknar. Archipelago (Consortium dist.), $25 (456p) ISBN 978-0-9793330-5-7
Originally published in 1949, Tanpinar’s sweeping literary masterpiece is a love story of his native Turkey and of the flesh. As Turkish culture shifts from its traditional roots to a more modernized society in the 1930s, protagonist Mümtaz seeks to preserve the past. After his parents’ untimely death, he becomes a devotee of Turkish literature under the tutelage of his cousin and mentor, Ihsan. Mümtaz is “like a figure in a novel, confronted by tragedy at a young age, ensuring that its effects would always afflict him and perhaps that is why he chooses to focus on a disappearing past. He soon falls in love with Nuran, an unattainable woman with a complicated background. Mümtaz believes that his love for Nuran will be enough to save them from the changing times and protect them from disaster. Tanpinar’s lyricism and resonant plot will leave U.S. readers wondering why they’ve had to wait so long to read this exquisite novel.