The Landscape of Time

Important events that mark Turkey’s recent history between the years 1988–2002 are portrayed in Eroğlu’s seventh novel, Zamanın Manzarası (2002, The Landscape of Time), including the earthquake of 17 August 1999, the clashes in the southeast, the protests against Ftype closed prisons, hunger strikes in prisons, and the “Back to Life” operation, which was carried out to end the strikes in prisons but led to the death of thirty-two people. The novel includes many side themes, touching on poverty in Turkey and children who die from famine or commit suicide. Its protagonist, Barış Utkan, was born on 6 August 1965, a date that shames him since it was the twentieth anniversary of the day Hiroshima was obliterated by the atom bomb, which he regards as the most tragic event of World War II. He lost his mother at his own birth, was forsaken by his father, and was raised by an oppressive grandmother. He does not have a regular job. His name is in ironic contrast with his life, as Barış means “peace” in English. Unlike Eroğlu’s earlier protagonists, Barış is not a leftist activist. He identifies the left with poverty and avoids leftism as it reminds him of the unhappy neighbourhood of his childhood, in which he always waited for his father. Yet, he is not inclined toward the right wing either. He is apolitical and cynical, and he does not believe in God.

During his mandatory military duty in southeast Turkey, Barış is involved in action and kills people. After returning from the military service, he tries to get over his depression by writing. Meanwhile, he sees a therapist. The “past” part of the novel consists of these therapy sessions. He falls in love with Elif Heper, a former opera singer who is rich and beautiful. Elif’s wealth and Barış’s poverty constitute a total contrast, but this relationship helps Barış find a way to overcome his past and regain the humanity he lost in the war. In his 25 October 2002 review in Akşamlık (For the Evening), A. Ömer Türkeş praised Zamanın Manzarası as one of the best novels of the year and as Eroğlu’s best work. He was impressed by the use of historical background as well as the novel’s layered temporal structure and descriptive language.