In Memoir, Imprisoned Turkish Writer Says His Longing Is 'So Naked, So Primal'

By Gabino Iglesias | 2019-10-04 | including 1 item |
Turkish novelist Ahmet Altan is one of many writers thrown in prison by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's oppressive regime. Altan, who was arrested and charged with spurious allegations, wasn't broken by the event. In fact, he expected it to happen. His great-grandfather was "sentenced to death for helping rebels to defect to Anatolia during the War of Liberation" and only escaped hanging at the last minute. His father had been arrested many times and was "put on trial hundreds of times for his writing." Altan's brother was also arrested and sentence to life in prison. The family's history had prepared the novelist for the arrest, but it hadn't prepared him for life behind bars. Confined in a tiny cell and surrounded by men as innocent as him, Altan recoiled into his own thoughts and wrote about his imprisonment. I Will Never See the World Again is the result of that process. This remarkable, touching memoir — which Altan wrote entirely from his prison cell and snuck out in notes he gave to his lawyers — is a collection of experiences, thoughts, conversations, internal debates. All are trying to cope with the senselessness of an authoritarian regime and processing the loss of freedom and contact with loved ones. While the experiences of those unjustifiably locked up is surely similar in many ways, Altan's talent as a writer allowed him to communicate his experience in rich, haunting detail. Some pages are full of pain, but others are full of hope. Similarly, he grapples with everything from writing and religion to the concept of bravery and analyzing the work of many writers.