As the sun presses down on Adana, köftes and cups of cloudy raki are passed to the guests of a dinner party in the home of Ali – a former laborer who gives tight bear hugs and radiates the spirit of a child. Among the guests are a journalist named Oya, who has recently been released from prison and is living in exile on charges of leftist sympathizing, and her new acquaintance, Mustafa. Together they sit among calico cushions, debate communism and socialism, words rumbling around the room “like hot peppers.” A swift kick knocks down the front door and bumbling policemen converge on the guests, carting them off to holding cells, where they’ll be interrogated and tortured throughout the night.
Fear spools into the private shells of their minds, into the tip of a pen being forced into confession, into claustrophobic thoughts of a return to prison, just after tasting freedom. Bristling snatches of Oya’s time in prison rush back – the wild curses and laughter of inmates, their vicious quarrels and rapturous belly-dancing in the courtyard. Her former inmates created fury and joy out of nothing. Their cloistered yet brimming resilience wills Oya to fight through the night and is fused with every word of this blazing, lucid novel.