Cover Image: The Applicant

The Applicant

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Member Reviews

What a brilliant debut! This book resonated with me on so many levels it’s almost unreal, it brings back so many memories!

Leyla is a young Turkish aspiring writer currently living in Berlin. She has just finished her studies but somehow failed her thesis and is now in a limbo awaiting the results of the appeal and at the same time fighting the German immigration system. She is still on a student visa, only allowed to work twenty hours a week. She gets a job as a cleaner in a hostel and spends most of her free time doing drugs and having sex with strangers (before you ask, these are not the parts that bring back memories😅)

This is a book about so many things! It’s about being young, having dreams and making questionable choices, but also about not being allowed all these things because some office clerk has your nationality listed on a wrong excel sheet. It’s about trying to belong while staying loyal to your country and family (in a way) and about falling in love (sort of?).

Written in a form of diary it pulls you in from page one. The writing is excellent! The book is thought provoking and hilarious at the same time; it will make you angry and then make you laugh a moment later. 

Highly recommended for those who have ever lived abroad, for artists, students and those who don’t know what they are just yet. 

But even more for those who are none of these things. 

Thank you NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Definitely a winner. If you liked Marlowe Granados' HAPPY HOUR there is a lot to recommend in this book. Thank you for the ARC.
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The Applicant is a compelling novel about immigration, belonging, and the complicated relationships we have with our homes, however we define them. The story moves along at a quick pace, and it's a fairly short novel, but nevertheless you get a good sense of the narrator, Leyla, and her voice. Given its brevity, the fact that the novel is written in a diary format also works to its advantage as it allows us to get to know its main character in a more direct, intimate way. As a novel, The Applicant can also be considered as part of the recent string of Disaster Woman novels that have been so prominent as of late; if you tend to enjoy those novels, I think there's a good chance you'd enjoy The Applicant. But even if you don't--and I generally don't--I think this novel still has plenty to recommend it over and above the general tropes of the Disaster Woman story.

So far, so good. For the first 70 pages or so of this novel, I was really enjoying it, a few minor issues notwithstanding. The more I read The Applicant, though, the more those minor issues became...not minor. What I was willing to overlook in the first third or so of the novel became virtually impossible for me to ignore by its end: namely, the writing. Simply put, the writing of The Applicant lacks finesse. It feels clumsy: in the moments where you want it to stop because it's made its point, it keeps going; or just when you think a passage has struck home, there's some cliched phrase or wording that undermines it. Parts of the story read more like posts than as narrative, as though they were a product of the author's thoughts and opinions rather than those of the story's protagonist. And it's not even that I disagreed with those thoughts and opinions--I didn't--but rather that they disrupted the narrative and effectively took me out of the story.

(Also: I felt like the plotline with the Swedish love interest was really random, and I did not like the ending at all; it felt like it came completely out of nowhere and was so tonally discordant with the rest of the story.)

I appreciate what this novel was trying to do, and I did enjoy parts of it, but as a whole it just didn't quite hit the mark for me.

Thank you to Grove Atlantic for providing me with an eARC of this via NetGalley!
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I wanted to love this book, and in moments I did.  Our protagonist mostly got under my skin with her journey of learning how to live in Berlin as a migrant....but at times I wanted her desperately to make other decisions.  A few times the story lost it's way for me, but after a few pages it came back so worth persevering with it.
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Can an immigrant with a soon-to-be expired visa have an identity crisis? Well, Leyla clearly can't control her one. She came to Berlin to be free and to become a writer, but she is stuck with a cleaning job at a hostel because her thesis was denied.

Berlin comes alive in this promising debut, with the good, the bad, and the dirty, maybe because no one can see a city better than an immigrant. Written as a journal, this is a surprisingly easy read, giving all the themes it touches. It lacks some tension, especially at the end.
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Relatable, contemporary, timeless, Koca's "The Applicant" delves deep into the life of liminality, of the in-between state of living between spaces, both in spatial terms and as far as identity is concerned, and, for this reason, managed to hit a little too close to home
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Thank you to Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Coming soon in February 2023.
The Applicant is a very well written, poignant and funny diary about a young Turkish girl named Leyla.
Leyla is in Berlin on a Visa. She was not able to find work because of a foolish and lazy college professor who failed her thesis. She parties heavily, she reminisces about her life in Turkey, she keeps the truth from her family, she worries, she frets, she keeps moving forward. 
I guess that’s what this story is about: chasing dreams and survival in spite of incredible bad luck, poor decisions, and systemic racism. 
The novel is good literature, it’s heartfelt, honest, and extremely well written.
I was bored overall, and I think it’s become diaries for books is not something I really enjoy. I like a narrative to stay truly engaged.
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Told through her diary entries, The Applicant follows Leyla, a Turkish immigrant living in Berlin with hopes of becoming a writer. When she fails her master’s thesis because of an incompetent professor, Leyla’s plans to establish herself in Berlin are derailed. The entries detailed in the novel take place during a period of uncertainty as Leyla waits for the court to decide whether to pass her thesis, thus allowing her to stay in Berlin. Overall, I loved this novel, but some specific aspects stood out to me as remarkable. 

The author does a great job of balancing humor and sincerity. Although the humor is mostly present in the beginning, it is for good reason. The novel becomes increasingly profound, which rivals the intensity of Leyla’s situation. Her struggles with identity, love, and lifestyle were described in a way that inspired understanding without feeling heavy-handed. This stems from good writing, but also Leyla herself. Despite their presence in her daily life, she does not want to think too much of the life-altering things happening around her that are out of her control. During the times they are directly addressed, her comparison of eastern and western cultures and reflections on her Turkish upbringing struck me the most. Despite her numerous regrets, Leyla does what she can to overcome a system designed to neglect her. 

The Applicant is an exceptional debut with writing I will be thinking about for days to come. I look forward to re-reading it upon official release.
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Thank you netgalley and Grove Atlantic for this eARC!

I was worried I'd have to continue to gatekeep my 5 star review, so I have to thank Nazli Koca as well, for this fantastic read.

The Applicant follows the story of Layla, a Turkish immigrant in Berlin. She indulges in the classic Berlin nightlife, drugs and sex, but not without fear, since her student visa is running out, she can't get a job because her thesis was failed by a lazy professor, and she's falling in love with a man who is in some ways as different from her as it gets.

Her story makes you frustrated and scared. A young person's life and future is in the hangs of an uncompromising bueraucracy. If it wasn't for one man's stubbornness, she wouldn't have to worry. Everyday she encouters subtle racism, even from her open minded peers who never had to doubt how they're going to put food on the table. To some, the solutions to her issues are obvious, but they fail to realize there are factors they won't ever understand, they fail to understand how some things can never be let go, despite them not doing anyone any favours. How feminism (and other forms of activism) free some, but only form a bigger cage for others.

Her story also makes you laugh, in joy and in despair. Despite her misfortune, she's bright, witty, and if only people listened to her, they could see it, and they could see how she deserves to have security and a chance - like all of us do.

I couldn't choose a quote to begin this review with, because there are so many good ones! I had so many bookmarks I had to stop myself from making more, since there's an amazing paragraph on almost every page. It's written in simple, yet meaningful language, that perfectly conveys those long-lasting doubts and worries - they've been repeated in one's head for so long they barely sting individually, but form a dull ache together.

I can't wait to get a physical copy and read this outstanding debut again, and of course, to see where Koca takes us next!
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