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

‘Genç is arguably the most important Turkish writer writing in English still living in Turkey… He wanted his nonfiction to read like fiction. If that is the litmus test, The Lion and the Nightingale earns its keep… Genç stands with the artists that he portrays so personally in The Lion and the Nightingale. Journalism, Genç defends, is an art. And he has proven its merit as literature… Adhering to principles of New Journalism, Genç reports in a way similar to Gay Talese, who confidently inked the thoughts of his sources… Reporting the thoughts and feelings of key witnesses makes for a stiff cocktail of literary journalism and crime drama… His English has a clear, distanced perceptivity underscored by his cultural and linguistic objectivity. The Lion and the Nightingale, however, enters deeply into the work of fellow Turkish journalists who write in Turkish, with special empathy for their struggles, personalities, and careers on the other side of a distinctly opaque language barrier’The Millions

‘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

‘While ostensibly written by a nightingale — a liberal leftist with a secular upbringing — The Lion and the Nightingale is reliably neutral in its assessment of Turkey’s political spectrum, critical of the shortcomings and benefits on both sides, and aware of how, in Turkey, they remarkably overlap and occupy each other’s space according to the changing guards of what might be called, simply, the power establishment’ —The Fortnightly Review

‘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

The Lion and The Nightingale is the excellent new book by Kaya Genç. It wonderfully follows individuals in Turkey, reflecting on their lives. I couldn’t put it down’ —Katie Lambert, British diplomat

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

‘Tells the stories of very different people following the attempted coup in 2016’ —Solidarity

The book is a result of comprehensive field work, interviews, observations and historical records. The author does not only cover Turkey in 2017, but also presents a crash course on Turkish history in an attempt to contextualise various aspects of the country’s social and political dynamics’—TRT World Research Centre

‘Absolutely fascinating’Pat Yale, author of the Lonely Planet Guide to London

‘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

‘Even the great lion’s roar cannot silence the nightingale, that is one key takeaway from the new book of reporting by Istanbul-based novelist and journalist Kaya Genç’ —Ahval

‘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’—Showcase

Amazon best-seller in Middle Eastern Literary Criticism section 

Reviews
May 27, 2020 – The Fortnightly Review

May 22, 2020 – The Millions, Matt A. Hanson

May 4, 2020 – TRT World Research Centre, Semanur Pekkendir Darbaz

April 14, 2020 – Ahval, David Lepeska

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

Interviews

May 2020 – Bloomsbury Academic Podcast, Rebecca Morofsky

April 2020 – Talking Turkey, David Lepeska

April 2020 – Solidarity, Pete Boggs

November 2019Showcase, Elif Bereketli

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.