Poetry Shelf Lounge: Reading Ayşegül Savaş’s Walking on the Ceiling

 

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Ayşegül Savaş grew up in Turkey and Denmark, and currently lives in Paris and teaches at the Sorbonne. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, The Guardian, The Paris Review Daily, The Dublin Review and elsewhere, and was shortlisted for the Glimmer Train Fiction Prize and the Graywolf Emerging Writers Award. She has an MFA from the University of San Francisco. Her debut, Walking on the Ceiling, was published May 2019 (Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House). Her second novel, White on White, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books.

I spotted this book on The New Yorker book page – just a few sentences that sent me hunting down a copy (The Women’s bookshop had a wee stack).

I adore this book. It is light and dark, economical, sumptuous, sweetly crafted. It made me sad and it filled me with joy.

Nunu moves from Istanbul, her home town, to Paris. She barely knows a soul but meets M., a British writer whose novels are set in Istanbul. Together they roam the streets and museums of Paris, and as they roam, they draw the far-off streets of the city they love closer. It is a novel of movement – writing as a form of travel, travelling as a way of recalling the faulty and elusive past.

The sad thread for me is the mother-daughter relationship – enigmatic, strange, silent.

This is novel writing at its utmost elegance as it brings two cities to life: kaleidoscopic, kinetic, clandestine. Catching the physicality, the sensual layers. It is so very moving, this portrait of a young woman finding herself missing as much as she recognises her presence.

The title makes sense near the end of the book! Took me by delicious surprise.

I am in love with this book.

 

Author website

An interview

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