Translated from by

Published: November 15, 2022





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Book Description

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.  

Sevgi Soysal writes politics through the human body: its longings, pains, and oppression give flesh to this crushing and tender book.
Aysegül Savas

The fluid shifts in points of view underscore the precariousness of the characters’ lives during a tumultuous and violent period following a recent coup . . . [Dawn] powerfully underscores how the threat of violence drives all the characters into suspicion and paranoia. This story of persecution convinces with its urgency and humanity.
Publishers Weekly

With a clarity and courage rooted in her own experiences as a political prisoner, Sevgi Soysal unflinchingly exposed the suffering and defiance of women in 1970s Turkey, and more broadly the conflicts inherent in personal and political loyalties which continue to resound in our time. A brutal but ultimately rewarding novel, and a timely and typically sensitive translation by Maureen Freely.
Alev Scott, author of Ottoman Odyssey

With the unflinching eye of a journalist and the sensitivities of a novelist, Soysal reveals one night of horror threaded with moments of possibility and human connection. Maureen Freely’s translation brings Soysal’s riveting words to a wider audience, one courageous woman’s story, a necessary story for our whole fragile world.
Patty Dann, author of Mermaids and The Wright Sister

That Soysal’s work is often categorized as Turkish coup literature sometimes detracts from the breadth of her literary creativity and unapologetic feminism . . . Dawn is daringly explicit about the tribulations of the female body, from accounts of sexual assault in prison to the shame women feel about menstruation . . . Freely’s translation is clean, colloquial and confident.
Ayten Tartici, New York Times

Dawn integrates all of Soysal’s signature techniques and preoccupations . . . Maureen Freely skillfully registers the tones of disquiet and grief that empower Soysal’s sentences . . . Ultimately, and without Soysal having to spell it out, it is clear that each individual’s turmoil results from the anguish caused by the unforgiving powers of the state.
Ron Slate, On the Seawall

Visceral and cinematic . . . The novel situates the woman’s body in its confrontations with authority. The brilliance of the novel might be traced to the formal structure through which the author reflects on this confrontation . . . Soysal’s writing is captivating, reflective, and thrilling . . . Dawn is a classic that readers interested in feminist world literature will devour.
Irmak Ertuna Howison, Asymptote

Soysal creates a panoramic view of the remote southern shantytown Adana in Dawn, sweeping in and out of her characters' lives with passion. From ferris wheels to coffee houses to cold hotels, Soysal's spare prose leaps with electricity.
Grace Byron, The Reservoir

Soysal does not disguise which side she is on – that of the downtrodden, the workers, the women, those opposed to the military government and its martial law. We see her own story through Oya but also the stories of the others, some enthusiastic opponents of the government and others just trying to make a living, honest or otherwise.
The Modern Novel

By Dawn’s end you may well feel you, too, have spent a night in the cells with [Soysal's characters] and developed that accidental comradeship. In one way or another, their lives will have touched you and, whatever hope you have left, you will hope for them. An important addition to the literature of oppression, Dawn will resonate with the experience of many even fifty years later.
Grant Rintoul, 1st Reading

First published in 1975, Dawn is freshly and sublimely translated by Maureen Freely . . . a gutting masterpiece . . . The powerful believe in cruelty, in violence . . . But Oya, and Soysal, have a different faith. They actually believe the world can be better. Soysal gave her life to this belief, and Dawn, which ends on a hopeful note, illuminates a path. We’re not there, not even close. But nor are we completely broken.
Brian O'Neill, Necessary Fiction

It took feminist, novelist, journalist, university professor and translator Maureen Freely more than 40 years to find a home for Soysal’s wonderful novel Dawn, in the English language. Just like Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Soysal’s novel is set in just one day . . . Maureen Freely’s translation is not only sensitive, confident and beautiful; Dawn is a conversation between two novelists.
Lacuna Magazine

Empowered by Soysal's understated ironic voice, Dawn reveals the dangerous absurdity of unchecked power and the infinite strategies people have for surviving or justifying their survival in such conditions . . . Soysal’s characters, so human and fallible, remind us of ourselves . . . Sevgi Soysal has written a powerful, nuanced novel of resistance.
Joon-Li Kim, On the Seawall

Soysal’s various levels of interrogation probe at the painful spaces of subjectification which emerge in the interstices of power – always partial, provisional and emerging within very specific relationships. But while sensitive to the neurosis inflicted by society on individuals, she doesn’t let anybody, least of all herself, off the hook.
Helen Mackreath, K24


Sevgi Soysal's unique voice continues to echo today, long after her passing. In the antagonistic environment of the 1970s, when the country was divided between leftists and rightists, Soysal questioned, in clever, flowing prose, patriarchal precedents on all sides . . . She was the writer of women dangling on the threshold—between sanity and insanity, society and the individual, setting the table and walking away, endless self-sacrifice and impromptu selfishness. . . . She created female characters who straddled the divide between living for others and following their hearts.
Elif Shafak, from her memoir, Black Milk

[Soysal's] writings, full of courage, malice, disobedience and irony, do not so much reflect an existing feminist movement on the streets . . . as forge a new voice, inquiring into the power of capital and men, while keeping in mind the tempestuous and fickle nature of human relationships, with their power to subvert, inflame and destroy . . . Defiant, flawed, piercing. Reading . . . Soysal today restores the volatility and violence of female concerns, and expands our horizons of understanding how inequality operates.
Helen Mackreath, The White Review

Instead of making the pain epic, making love unrealistic, and making the revolution utopian, [Sevgi Soysal] caressed the pain with compassion . . . and made the revolution stubbornly vital
Can Gürses

This is a beautiful, moving work of fiction that is certainly worthy of being rereleased with the fanfare of a new translation so that it may come to the attention of more readers here in the ‘20s, when capitalism and the absurd abuses of its cartoonish henchmen remain part of our daily lives.
Ryne Clos, Spectrum Culture

Dawn was included in Lacuna Magazine’s list of “Seven of the best fiction and non-fiction books to explore social justice”