Written during the Second World War while Hikmet was serving a
thirteen-year sentence as a political prisoner, his verse-novel
uses cinematic techniques to tell the story of the emergence of
secular, modern Turkey by focusing on the always-entertaining
stories of sundry characters from all walks of life. As his
vignettes flash before our eyes at movie-like speed, it becomes
clear he is also telling the turbulent story of the twentieth
century itself and the ongoing struggle between tradition, which
trusts in God, and modernity, which entrusts the world to human
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