The Anthropologists

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Pub Date Jul 09 2024 | Archive Date Jun 30 2024
Bloomsbury USA | Bloomsbury Publishing

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"Like Walter Benjamin, Aysegül Savas uncovers trapdoors to bewilderment everywhere in everyday life; like Henry James, she sees marriage as a mystery, unsoundably deep. The Anthropologists is mesmerizing; I felt I read it in a single breath." -Garth Greenwell

“Savas is an author who simply, and astoundingly, knows.” -Bryan Washington

Asya and Manu are looking at apartments, envisioning their future in a foreign city. What should their life here look like? What rituals will structure their days? Whom can they consider family?

As the young couple dreams about the possibilities of each new listing, Asya, a documentarian, gathers footage from the neighborhood like an anthropologist observing local customs. “Forget about daily life,” chides her grandmother on the phone. “We named you for a whole continent and you're filming a park.”

Back in their home countries parents age, grandparents get sick, nieces and nephews grow up-all just slightly out of reach. But Asya and Manu's new world is growing, too, they hope. As they open the horizons of their lives, what and whom will they hold onto, and what will they need to release?

Unfolding over a series of apartment viewings, late-night conversations, last rounds of drinks and lazy breakfasts, The Anthropologists is a soulful examination of homebuilding and modern love, written with Aysegül Savas' distinctive elegance, warmth, and humor

"Like Walter Benjamin, Aysegül Savas uncovers trapdoors to bewilderment everywhere in everyday life; like Henry James, she sees marriage as a mystery, unsoundably deep. The Anthropologists is...

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ISBN 9781639733064
PRICE $24.99 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for the ebook. This is a lovely book as Aysa and Manu try to lay down roots as they look for a new apartment in a bustling city that is in a country not their own. Aysa, a documentary filmmaker, feels cut off from home as her parents age and younger family members become adults. Today's technology keeps you closer than ever, but a barrier still remains. It’s such a novel idea to watch a couple try and make a new city a place that feels like home.

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This is the second slim novel I’ve read by Aysegul Savas. (although I didn’t even know it until after reading “The Anthropologists”). A couple of years ago I read “White on White”…. another archetype jewel where nothing extraordinary happens — yet the intimacy of the characters—give away to a type of psychological and philosophical power that reveals itself in hidden truths.

In “The Anthropologists”, ….. again …..I recognized Savas’s rare talent for writing simple sentences which convey complexity of thought. I love these types of soulful books (slim-jim-gems).
Most of this story is seen through a series of days - weeks - and months - [good days of rotting time] ….while Aysu and Manu search for a new apartment.

Most everyone that Anya and Manu knew were foreigners. They were a little embarrassed about it, too. However, …..immigrants themselves….(still a young childless married couple)….they were contemplating, analyzing, and soul searching their future lives … —whom could they consider their family in their foreign city?

Asya was a film documentarian. Hanging out at a local neighborhood park ….she wants to observe every day people — doing every day mundane things. She’s interested in the clothes they choose to wear, foods they like to eat, and their customs. In the same way anthropologists study customs and human behavior, Asya could be considered a social-cultural film anthropologist.

Ravi is the couple’s closest friend. The three of them spend a lot of time hanging out together….evenings at the couples house: eating, drinking, chatting. There are trips to restaurants, cafe’s, the pub…and other occasional outings.
A few other supporting characters/friends offer comfort and puzzlements.

We also meet Asya and Manu parents (some interesting visits), ….as well as Asya’s grandmother (video-internet-intimacy) ….

Parts of this book is just down right hilarious….but mostly it’s just SOOOOO good!!!!
It’s a little hard to explain why it’s SOOOOO good…..(it’s to be experienced)….but it’s a treasure.
I’m buying every other novel that Savas writes. I definitely have not had enough of her yet.

Samples to share…..
“Manu and I had no spare sets of plates or matching glasses, but we had plenty of discussion in our lives. For Tereza, ours was a true wealth. She asked us about our friends, our opinions on music and poetry, about the political situation in our countries, whose details she never quite retained, beyond the fact that things didn’t look very bright. This was Tereza’s general disposition: that the world had become a dark place, after a brief period of hope in her youth”.

“So, Manu asked, how is everyone’s day?
“Fine, Ravi said. Nothing to report”.
“There must be something, Manu said”.
“Really, nothing”.
“Well then, what did you have for breakfast? I asked”.
“Here she goes, Ravi said”.
“Maybe I’ve gotten it from my grandmother. I just wanted to know how people lived—really lived”.

Thoroughly enjoyable!

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I loved Aysegül Savas previous two novels, gobbled each in nearly one sitting, and have returned to them often since. The Anthropologists has a similar texture to those previous works, though perhaps with a more free-flowing nature. Not much happens (in short, a couple is on a journey to buy an apartment), though not a lot necessarily happens in the others either, but I felt pulled by the slow current, allowing myself to take in the anecdotes, the escapades, the light conflicts. It's an enjoyable read, if for the characters and the beautifully spare prose.

Thanks to the publisher for the e-galley!

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