Ebru Ojen and City Lights presents Lojman, in conversation with Aron Aji and Selin Gökcesu

September 20th

Abandoned by her husband, marooned by an epic snowstorm, a mother gives birth to her third child. Her sense of entrapment turns into a desperate rage in this unblinking portrait of a woman whose powerlessness becomes lethal.

Lojman tells, on its surface, the domestic tale of a Kurdish family living in a small village on a desolate plateau at the foot of the snow-capped mountains of Turkey's Van province. Virtually every aspect of the family's life is dictated by the government, from their exile to the country's remote, easternmost region to their sequestration in the grim "teacher's lodging"--or lojman--to which they're assigned. When Selma's husband walks out one day, he leaves in his wake a storm of resentment between his young children and a mother reluctant to parent them.

Written in startling, raw prose, this novel -- the author's first to be translated into English -- is reminiscent of Elena Ferrante's masterful Days of Abandonment, though its private dramas are made all the more vivid against an imposing natural landscape that exerts a powerful, life-threatening force.

In short, propulsive chapters, Lojman spins a domestic drama crystallized through the family's mental and physical claustrophobia. Vivid daydreams morph with cold realities, and as the family's descent reaches its nadir, their world is transformed into a surreal, gelatinous prison from which there is no escape.

"Ojen has constructed a claustrophobic world in which the mixture of 'some affection and some hatred' that can characterize family life finally spills over into a fantastically violent conclusion. This relentless narrative will stun and frighten readers in the best way." –Publishers Weekly

"Lojman is a feverish account of the thrashings of an imprisoned body and soul and a hallucinatory examination of motherhood, individuality, and romantic love. A dark, original, exciting novel." – Ayşegül Savas, author of Walking on the Ceiling

Ebru Ojen was born in 1981 to Kurdish parents in Malatya, Turkey. In 1984, the family moved further east to Van, when her schoolteacher father was relocated by the state. In 2014, Ojen published her striking debut novel, Aşı (Vaccine), about a state-sponsored vaccine campaign in an imaginary Kurdish village. That same year, Ojen was recognized among the ten most important emerging female voices in Turkish literature. Her next novel, Let the Carnivores Kill Each Other appeared in 2017, followed by Lojman, in 2020, which City Lights will publish in English in 2023. She currently resides in Istanbul, Turkey.
Aron Aji, Director of Translation programs at the University of Iowa, is a native of Turkey, and has translated works by modern and contemporary Turkish writers including Bilge Karasu, Elif Shafak, Latife Tekin, Murathan Mungan, and Ferit Edgü. His translations of Bilge Karasu's works include Death in Troy, The Garden of Departed Cats (2004 National Translation Award), and A Long Day’s Evening (NEA Literature Fellowship, 2013 PEN Translation Prize Finalist). His recent translations include Ferit Edgü’s The Wounded Age and Eastern Tales (NYRB, 2022), Murathan Mungan’s Valor (Northwestern University Press, 2022), and Efe Duyan's The Behavior of Words (White Pine Press, 2023). Aji was president of The American Literary Translators Association between 2016-2019. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa.
Selin Gökcesu is a Brooklyn-based writer and Turkish translator. She has a PhD in psychology and an MFA in writing from Columbia University.