The Lion and the Nightingale

The Lion and the Nightingale: A Journey through Modern Turkey (October 2019) from Bloomsbury/I.B. Tauris

‘In this masterful chronicle of Turkey, Genç sketches extraordinary lives in an extraordinary time. Intimate, intelligent, detailed, full of life: It will become a classic’Andrew Sean Greer, author of Less and winner of 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

‘The brilliant Kaya Genç returns again to examine modern Turkey with his blend of deep historical learning, on-the-ground reporting, and hard-won, convention-defying nuance’ Molly Crabapple, contributor to The New York Review of Books and author of Drawing Blood

‘Kaya Genç is that rare beast: a freely operating Turkish writer… who is able to give you an eye-level view of what is happening in Turkey right now’ Christopher de Bellaigue, contributor to The New York Review of Books and author of The Islamic Enlightenment

‘His interview with an octogenarian ex-bookshop owner is a fascinating sweep of Turkish history… Genç writes well about his own past, in particular his adolescent obsession with Marxism, which usefully grounds Turkish current affairs in the context of the past couple of decades and explains the attraction of extreme politics to the country’s youth’ The Times Literary Supplement

‘In this uneasy exploration of life under the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Genc chisels away at the cracks in the Turkish psyche – the gap between the public and the private, between the liberals and the conservatives, between longing for freedom and the attraction of safety promised by the strongman’ —The Sydney Morning Herald

‘Explores Turkey’s conflicted soul’ —Index on Censorship

‘Whether he’s putting us in the shoes of Binevş, a Kurdish cleaner, or Özge Ersoy, a Turkish curator living in Hong Kong, Genç conveys the on-the-ground experience with great empathetic clarity.
The Lion and the Nightingale reminds us that, now more than ever, anything that clouds our vision – be it ignorance, credulity, cliché, fluff, propaganda, the silencing of journalists, fake news, romanticism – must be urgently dissipated.’ —The Culture Trip

‘The enigma which is Turkey is quite brilliantly explored in this fascinating, indeed poetic, treatment by an author who uses a mixture of interviews, autobiography and reflection to chronicle ‘the awkwardness of the New Turkey’… Genç is an accomplished novelist and essayist of international repute who gives us a lucid account of extraordinary times. He is also a juggler of paradoxes, an assailer of conventional wisdoms and a challenger of foolish optimism. For students and politicians of the European political scene this volume is a unique meditation on a key and on-going problem of international import’ —Journal of Contemporary European Studies

In describing what it means to be a writer Pankaj Mishra once said it was to engage rationally with, rather than retreat from, the world, “to concern oneself particularly with the fate of the individual in society.” In The Lion and the Nightingale Kaya Genç has done just this: the work of a writer in the truest sense; his assessment of a post-2016 Turkey is fair and measured, wise and generous. I loved this book’—Hilal İşler, contributor to The Paris Review and The Los Angeles Review of Books

‘In The Lion and the Nightingale Genç treads familiar ground through a different method, using artistic license to see the world through his protagonists’ eyes… As a book about Turkey, there is no shortage of interesting characters and we are introduced to most of them through a brooding style – it is, after all, a narrative about post-coup-attempt Turkey… Genç is very good at picking up on loose ends that Turkey seems to leave laying around through rapid succession. The Lion and the Nightingale operates like an almanac. It takes a longer view of things – longer than our social media trained minds have almost ceased to process. It helps us look back to, if not discover a pattern, to see what bits of the stories that we have been consuming since 2017 have the most relevance today. This taking stock is a precious exercise, if for nothing than for a tentative measure to understand which of the stories we are exposed to today will be the defining features of tomorrow’—Daily Sabah

‘His book is artistically visiting the aftermath of the attempted military coup. Genç has found a way to immortalize what he believes was his nation’s survival over violence’—TRT World

Amazon best-seller in Middle Eastern Literary Criticism section 

January 17, 2020 – Culture Trip, Neil McQuillian

December 26, 2019 – Daily Sabah, Nagihan Haliloğlu

November 22, 2019 – The Sydney Morning Herald, Fiona Capp

November 8, 2019 – Journal of Contemporary European Studies, Derek Hawes

October 31, 2019 – The Times Literary Supplement, Alev Scott

Turkey is a land torn between East and West, and between its glorious past and a dangerous, unpredictable future. After the violence of an attempted military coup against President Erdogan in 2016, an event which shocked the world, journalist and novelist Kaya Genç travelled around his country on a quest to find the places and people in whom the contrasts of Turkey’s rich past meet. As suicide bombers attack Istanbul, and journalists and teachers are imprisoned, he walks the streets of the famous Ottoman neighborhoods, telling the stories of the ordinary Turks who live among the contradictions and conflicts of Anatolia, one of the world’s oldest civilizations. The Lion and the Nightingale presents the spellbinding story of a country whose history has been split between East and West, between violence and beauty – between the roar of the lion and the song of the nightingale.

Weaving together a mixture of memoir, interview and his own autobiography, Genç takes the reader on a contemporary journey through the contradictory soul of the Turkish nation.