The Blacksmiths Daughter by Selim Özdoğan

The Blacksmith’s Daughter by Selim Özdoğan

German fiction

Orignal title – Die Tochter des Schmieds

Translator – Ayça Türkoğlu and Katy Derbyshire

Source – review copy

I’m a bit late reviewing this book from the German/Turkish writer Selim Özdoğan the book was a cult hit when it came out in Germany as it seemed to capture the experience of a lot of the Turkish families that came to be foreign workers in Germany. This is the first part of a trilogy around the life of one girl in Anatolia Turkey. the first part is her childhood in the ’50s a story of many that came to Germany at the time. This is the German equivalent to me of Windrush literature in the Uk as a lot of Turkish people came to do those jobs that Germans wouldn’t do.

When he bagan working in the Timur took up this habit from his father. He would often put sweets in Fatma’s skirt. He must have been 14 or 15 at the time, and she was 10 years younger he remembered the girl’s smile, Nobody knew anything specific about Fatma’s parents some said they’d be greek , some Aramaeans and others claimed she was the daughter of Circassians. All they could agree upon was that the  couple had arrived in the town after the confussion of the first world war.Fatma’s father died before she was born, One day he complained of a back poain, and two week later cancer had taken hold of his entire body. fatma mother began working as a  nanny to a rich family to feed herself and her daughter.When she was six months old her mother was trampled to death by horses in the marketplace

There mother had a tough life

The story follows the early years of a little girl called  Gül she and her two sisters were the daughters of the Blacksmith Timur and his first wife Fatma. They live in a small village as the girls live in this idyllic yet closed world they go to school as they see that as the only way to go beyond the village there is some great little scenes in the school like when she takes the fall for a boy who is the naughty school kid. Timur has followed his father into the blacksmith trade the life seems perfect until their rural village is hit with typhoid and their mother passes barely in the bed cold when his father takes a younger woman just a few years older than his daughter. Arza had been married to a man that hadn’t given her a baby so she marries Tuimur as she wants a baby. But whilst Fatma was dying he let his business slip add to this he had fallen out with a fellow villager that had turned on Timur so they head to a town but this is where the girls start to feel that they don’t need and the new mother would love to see them out of the scene. This sets up the second book which follows them into Germany.

“It was me,” Gul said; she had no idea whyit slipped out. Recep wan’t eben her friend.He was the son of a good friend of her mother’s and people thought the reason he was so naughty was that he didn’t have a father; the man had gone to Istanbul one day and never come back, or so they said.

The teacher turned around and looked at Gül  for a few sconds. He knew it hadn’t been her, but he called her to the front and made her stretch out her left hand, palm upwars, He had to amintain her authority.

I loved this little scene in the book

I loved the feel of this world a village life that I feel has now gone anyone that knows me and the blog knows that villages have long been a favorite setting for this blogger. This had a feel of the world I read in stones in a landslide another book that sees a girl grown then move to a new bigger place. The book is also a testament to those guest workers that went in the ’60s and ’70s to Germany their story hasn’t been told much. As Katy said in an interview this is why she used a co-translator as she wanted the book to keep some of the Turkish feels it had in the german version. Gul has guts her story as Katy says in the interview it is one that is rarely told. This is a county novel a place that is timeless but is now gone these are Pamuk’s characters before they are drawn to Istanbul or as in the case her to Germany to try and find a better life like those who came to the Uk from the Caribean in Windrush era. Have you a favorite book set in a village?

Winstons score – A . this is a gem of a book about village life in a bygone world on the cusp of change

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Hill
    Aug 24, 2021 @ 22:16:13

    There’s been lots of interesting books this #WITmonth:)

    Reply

  2. Trackback: That was the month that was August 2021 | Winstonsdad's Blog

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