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I Will Never See the World Again Summary and Reviews

I Will Never See the World Again

The Memoir of an Imprisoned Writer

by Ahmet Altan, translated by Yasemin Congar

I Will Never See the World Again by Ahmet Altan, translated by Yasemin Congar X
I Will Never See the World Again by Ahmet Altan, translated by Yasemin Congar
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2019
    224 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

A resilient Turkish writer's inspiring account of his imprisonment that provides crucial insight into political censorship amidst the global rise of authoritarianism.

The destiny I put down in my novel has become mine. I am now under arrest like the hero I created years ago. I await the decision that will determine my future, just as he awaited his. I am unaware of my destiny, which has perhaps already been decided, just as he was unaware of his. I suffer the pathetic torment of profound helplessness, just as he did.

Like a cursed oracle, I foresaw my future years ago not knowing that it was my own.
 
Confined in a cell four meters long, imprisoned on absurd, Kafkaesque charges, novelist Ahmet Altan is one of many writers persecuted by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's oppressive regime. In this extraordinary memoir, written from his prison cell, Altan reflects upon his sentence, on a life whittled down to a courtyard covered by bars, and on the hope and solace a writer's mind can provide, even in the darkest places.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Both delicate and robust; there is a lyricism to this prose that the reader intuitively feels must somehow transcend language itself…a series of generous, enlightened, and deeply life-affirming meditations on what it means to be human in an inhuman world, Altan's memoir liberates the soul even as it throws its author's captivity into excruciatingly sharp relief." - Irish Times

"Eloquent and profoundly affecting…Altan's account of living with courage and dignity in grossly unjust circumstances is a testament to human endurance, joining the ranks of the greatest prison memoirs." - The Herald (Scotland)

"…speaks for itself with such clarity, certainty and wisdom that only one thing needs to be said: read it. And then read it again." - The Guardian

"…eloquent meditations on prison life, dreams of freedom and his love of literature." - Literary Review

"As surely as dissidents have been locked up throughout Turkey's turbulent modern history, their words — poems, memoirs, fiction and even screenplays — have managed to break out….One, a jailhouse diary by the novelist Ahmet Altan, has a title that evokes the hopeless length of his sentence: I Will Never See the World Again.…. He is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole after being convicted of 'trying to overthrow the constitutional order.' " - The Washington Post

"Intertwining gritty detail with lyrical effusion, Altan's narrative is a searing indictment of Turkey's authoritarian regime and an inspiring testament to human resilience." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"An inspiring account of the writing life and a chilling glimpse of authoritarianism's slippery slope." - Kirkus Reviews

"I hope that everyone who can read, whatever their politics, reads Ahmet Altan's response to his imprisonment. Repressive regimes hope that if they lock up writers they are also locking up ideas. This will always fail." - Neil Gaiman

"From the bowels of Erdogan's prison system emerge these meditations on the vicissitudes of justice, products of a richly stocked mind, engrossing, sometimes profound, and remarkable for their equanimity." - JM Coetzee

"Remember the name Ahmet Altan! Add him to the great voices writing from prison across the centuries – Boethius, Cervantes, Gramsci, Soyinka, Solzhenitsyn – and be moved to tears and indignation by his story." - Ariel Dorfman

"A remarkable memoir by a remarkable writer … it was something special to visit Ahmet Altan in his prison, and to leave with an unexpected feeling of elation, motivated by the sheer, towering greatness of the human spirit." - Philippe Sands (From the Foreword)

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Ahmet Altan, born in 1950, is one of Turkey's most important writers. In the purge following the failed coup of July 2016, Altan was sent to prison pending trial for giving "subliminal messages" in support of the coup. In February 2018 he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for attempting to overthrow the government. Fifty-one Nobel laureates have signed an open letter to President Erdoğan calling for Altan's release. Altan is the author of seven essay collections and ten novels.

Yasemin Çongar is the co-founder and general director of P24, a nonprofit platform for independent journalism in Istanbul. She is also the founder of K24, a Turkish literary review, and, most recently, the Istanbul Literature House. An editor, essayist, and translator, Çongar is the author of four books in Turkish.

Update: Nov 6, 2019. Ahmet Altan was released from prison today after a retrial, but three of his co-defendants – Fevzi Yazıcı, Yakup Şimşek and Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül, as do many other writers and journalists.

Update: Nov 14, 2019. Ahmet Altan was rearrested Tuesday. The Guardian reported that an arrest warrant was issued "after the chief public prosecutor appealed against the decision to release Altan."

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