Under the Shadow

UK edition (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016)


US edition (2017, Bloomsbury Academic)

Under the Shadow: Rage and Revolution in Modern Turkey (2016) from Bloomsbury Academic

‘A marvelous resource by a wonderful writer and tireless champion of literature’ —Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot

‘I finished reading Under the Shadow a while ago, but haven’t stopped thinking about it. It’s such an incisive, passionate, moving book, the best thing I’ve read in quite some time. For whatever it’s worth I’m reasonably well informed about world events but Under the Shadow increased my knowledge of Turkey, from its politics to its people, by approximately ten fold. We need books like it in order to get a fuller picture, certainly fuller than the news can provide, of life and crisis, of how life and crisis co-exist, in places where we do not live ourselves’ Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours

‘A fascinating and informative compilation that represents both investigative and literary journalism at their finest… Genç has found a brilliant form to tell the story’ Publishers Weekly

‘A cartographer of the battlefield… Mr. Genç is refreshingly balanced… a subtle guide to the wrenching changes Turkey is undergoing, and his testimony is rich in historical and cultural detail… He has announced himself here as a voice to be listened to as Turkey struggles to come to terms with itself’ The Economist

‘There have been numerous books of analysis published about contemporary Turkey, but few come close to Kaya Genç‘s Under the Shadow for sheer humanism and breadth of perspective’ The Village Voice

Necessary reading on Turkey’ —Basharat Peer, author of Curfewed Night

‘Illuminating… Genç cleverly and patiently interviews participants on both sides of the protests… reads like a first draft of history’ The Los Angeles Review of Books

‘Provides pen portraits of young Turks across the spectrum, “divided in politics but united in their passion.” . . . brings some historical knowledge to bear on the present day . . . encompassing so broad a spectrum is certainly a good idea . . . Genç should be applauded for his polyphonic portrait’ The Times Literary Supplement

‘Under the Shadow serves as an excellent field guide for Turkey’s emerging generation’ The National

‘A gallery of well-drawn profiles of young Turkish activists from across the political spectrum, Under the Shadow frames its subjects with a historical metaphor: the split within late Ottoman politics between the “Young Turks”—Western-looking anti-Sultanate modernizers Genç maps onto the Gezi Park protestors—and the less famous “Young Ottomans”—pro-sultanate conservative reformers who sensed a moral vacuum in Tanzimat modernity and pushed for “a synthesis between Enlightenment ideas and Islam,” aligned by Genç with today’s young AKP supporters. Catholic in its sympathies. . . the parallel predicates itself on the left existing more as a blur than a defined force—which is an accurate enough analysis of post-1980 Turkey’ n+1

Kaya Genç‘s words always touch a hidden truth in things’Jenny White, author of The Sultan’s Seal

Such an achievement’ —Molly Crabapple, author of Drawing Blood

Kaya Genç converses across borders, while forging his own distinct voice and perspective and challenging dominant narratives’  —Maureen Freely, author of The Enlightenment

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. His book, Under the Shadow, is a series of meticulously well-drawn portraits of mostly young Turks… Under the Shadow is a remarkable book because it adopts a very unprejudiced view’ Christopher de Bellaigue, contributor to The New York Review of Books and author of The Islamic Enlightenment

‘A fascinating and magnetic read that particularly deserves praise for giving voice to young Turkish dissidents… the first book of its kind to use oral history as a methodological framework’ The London School of Economics Review of Books

‘A rare balanced and essential book to understand Turkey’s young generation’La Vanguardia

‘A young novelist and writer, Genç has composed a work of creative non-fiction, drawing together personal testimonies and historical commentary to chart how the three years from the Gezi protests to the attempted coup have shaped the lives and attitudes of young people… What do these years look like to the young people living through them? Instead of creating a variety of fictional but representative characters travelling on buses or living in the same apartment block and then putting them into a novel that delves into the recent past to illustrate life in modern Turkey, Genç sets about asking people, and, by careful editing and his own commentary, lets their stories unfold’The Bulletin of the British Association for Turkish Area Studies

Kaya Genç‘s writing is as evocative as it is charming’ —Elif Şafak, author of Three Daughters of Eve and 2017 Man Booker International Prize judge

‘Indispensable… Kaya Genç takes the temperature of Turkey’s angry young activists, of every persuasion, and meditates on his country’s past and future’ —Jason Goodwin, author of Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire

‘Even before all the instability of 2016, Kaya Genç grasps the country’s vicissitudes. A terrific read’ —Elmira Bayrasli, author of From the Other Side of the World

‘Cleverly constructed, well researched, elegantly written account of modern Turkey’ Emran Mian, author of The Banker’s Daughter

‘The ending made me cry along with him’ —Pat Yale, author of Following Miss Bell

‘A celebration of the youth of the country… a great read, particularly for those of us who are tired of being fed ‘the latest development’ without having digested and categorized what has already happened… There isn’t one dull story… Each life story is told with excellent pacing by Genç—Nagihan Haliloğlu, author of Narrating from the Margins

‘Excellent book, journalistic, insightful and beautifully written, without passing judgement on the passionate people whose lives are chronicled’ Kareem Shaheen, Istanbul correspondent for the Guardian

‘An elegantly-written and illuminating portrait of Turkey’s angry youth’ Alex Christie-Miller, contributor to the White Review

‘Want to understand modern Turkey? Read this book’ Claire Sadar, editor of the Muftah

‘Kaya Genç is a powerful writerOmar Waraich, deputy south Asia director of Amnesty International

‘Turkish novelist Kaya Genç writes brilliantly in English, much like subcontinentals such as Jhumpa Lahiri’ Amberin Zaman, policy fellow at Wilson Center

‘This should be required reading for all Turkey observers’ —Audrey Williams, program coordinator at the Turkish Heritage

‘Illuminating, thorough, and well-written’ Laura Turner, contributor to the Washington Post

‘Under the Shadow is both complicated and absolutely necessary’ Paste Magazine

‘Sheds light on the endurance of both Erdoğan and youthful opposition…’ Muftah

One of the best ten books to understand Turkey, according to Penguin Random House’s Signature Reads magazine

Amazon best-seller in Protests & Reforms Books section 

One of James Goodwin’s Favourite Reads of 2016


April 13, 2020 – La Vanguardia, Jordi Joan Baños

April 19, 2018 – n+1, William Harris

April 26, 2017 – Village Voice, Bilge Ebiri

April 14, 2017 – Mint, Vedica Kant

April 5, 2017 – The London School of Economics Review of Books, Nicos Kristofis

March 13, 2017 – Muftah, Claire Sadar

December 30, 2016 – Paste Magazine, David Zarley

December 21, 2016 – The Times Literary Supplement, William J. Armstrong

December 11, 2016 – The Los Angeles Review of Books, Greg Cullison

November 10, 2016 – The National, David Lapeska

November 10, 2016 – The Economist

October 10, 2016 – Publishers Weekly

Turkey stands at the crossroads of the Middle East–caught between the West and ISIS, Syria and Russia, and governed by an increasingly forceful leader. Acclaimed writer Kaya Genç has been covering his country for the past decade. In Under the Shadow he meets activists from both sides of Turkey’s political divide: Gezi park protestors who fought tear gas and batons to transform their country’s future, and supporters of Erdogan’s conservative vision who are no less passionate in their activism. He talks to artists and authors to ask whether the New Turkey is a good place to for them to live and work. He interviews censored journalists and conservative writers both angered by what has been going on in their country.

He meets Turkey’s Wall Street types who take to the streets despite the enormity of what they can lose as well as the young Islamic entrepreneurs who drive Turkey’s economy.

While talking to Turkey’s angry young people Genç weaves in historical stories, visions and mythologies, showing how Turkey’s progressives and conservatives take their ideological roots from two political movements born in the Ottoman Empire: the Young Turks and the Young Ottomans, two groups of intellectuals who were united in their determination to make their country more democratic.

He shows a divided society coming to terms with the 21st Century, and in doing so, gets to the heart of the compelling conflicts between history and modernity in the Middle East.