Cover Image: I Am My Country

I Am My Country

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Member Reviews

"I Am My Country" by Kenan Orhan is a deep, thought provoking, and melancholic collection of short stories taking place in Turkey, with an undertone of fear, instability and terror. Sad and enlightening. Thank you NetGalley, the author and publisher for the early review copy. All opinions are my own.

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<i>First, a thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an eARC of this book.</i>

I'm not going to lie, I'm having a bit of an identity crisis here...

I thought, pretty definitively, that I was into folk tales. Like, felt very confident about that fact.

But this is not the first folk tale book I have DNF'd this year.

What is the deal?

Is it that I don't like <i>modern</i> folk tales? That I am too set in my ways and only like the folk tales I am "used to"? Is my brain just not good enough at abstract thinking to enjoy these modern folk tale retellings?

Honestly, I am not sure what it is. I didn't even get through the first story and DNF'd this one at 5%. I just never felt gripped/a buy-in to the story.

The writing itself was not bad at all and I did enjoy, nebulously, the idea of the first story - but when it came to having to commit to actually finish reading it... I just couldn't take the plunge.

I am sure other readers will greatly enjoy this book and be able to get meaning from it. I am sad that I am not one of those readers.

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“i am my country” is a collection of short stories regarding turkish people; many different aspects of identity are explored. the culture is rich and well described in a unique style of prose that at times borders on poetic. this is not an easy read, but it is quite wonderful with moments that truly impact the soul. at the end of this collection, i did feel a bit lost and melancholic.

thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an arc in exchange for an honest review!

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Know that this collection of 10 short stories can be a bit challenging at times. I admit to being relatively unfamiliar with Turkish politics and culture, That said, this is a very good introduction, There's a fair amount of magical realism (a man talks with an owl, an orchestra forms in an attic) but there's also very real issues. Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. This is definitely a collection to be read one at a time over days. For fans of literary fiction.

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An intense collection of short stories reflecting the political strife of Turkey. Each story demonstrates the thumbprint of a country ruled by oppression, repression, and conflict. Orhan delivers a variety of impressive characters and scenarios with stunning writing. His viewpoints are quietly strong creating an environment where an outsider understands the heavy political climate. I look forward to more from Orhan. No doubt writing about his country’s government took grit, I hope with little to no consequences. Imposing inauguration work from a skillful author.

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The book opens with the story of a female garbage collector. She goes about her days, until she starts finding music sheets in the garbage, then instruments, then musicians themselves. As music and books are banned, she hides them in her attic. The next story is about a florist who is training a stray dog for violent purposes. There are more incongruous stories, but all deal with Turkish oppression.

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This is a collection of short stories that are take place in and around Turkey, and Turkish people. Some of the stories have a fantasy type element (or magical I suppose), most are realistic. I enjoyed all the stories and felt they were very well written and easy to read. I am not overly familiar with Turkey or their culture and I felt these stories opened up that a bit, and reading this not long after the earthquake devastated Turkey, it was very interesting to read about a slice of Turkish live. I would recommend. Thanks to #Netgalley and #Random House for the ARC.

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While I really enjoyed some of these stories, others just didn't work for me. The stories I enjoyed were excellent in my opinion and I also enjoyed learning a bit more about Turkey.. In general, I'm not a fan of short stories unless there is a common thread in the storyline that ties them all together. However, I decided to read these because the book's description intrigued me and I have really enjoyed magical realism in the past. If you enjoy short stories or want to read stories set in this part of the world, give it at try.

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DNF at 70%.

I requested this book because I thought I would love the themes: love of homeland, the immigrant experience, hope in oppression. It is short stories which I haven’t read since high school, but that didn’t bother me. I did enjoy some short stories then and with these themes especially I thought this book would be perfect for me. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

I did not enjoy reading this book. At all. From the start the book was just a bit too funky for me. I didn’t understand the stories. They weren’t easy to understand; they were a mishmash of events that started and ended very abruptly so I didn’t understand what was going on at all. Maybe this is just the way short stories are? That you need to take a pen and paper to highlight and think deeply to understand what’s going on? Again, haven’t read any short stories in years but I don’t remember them being like this. Because of the weird style I did not see the themes very easily and I could not follow the stories at all.

If you are someone who regularly reads short stories and is okay with a very funky style of writing that is not easy to read, this book may be for you. However, if you read fiction to enjoy the book without needing to bend over backwards understanding what is happening, this isn’t for you.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for an eARC of this book. I’m

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I found it a bit ironic and sad that while reading this book a devastating earthquake hit Turkey and Syria. If the stories in I Am My Country reflect the sad chaos in that part of the world, the earthquake's aftermath is all the more devastating. Kenan Orhan is a young Turkish-American, whose prose is poetic, weaves a series of stories both mystical and mesmerizing. Each one gives the reader a glimpse of life faced by people in that part of the world. My favorite story is the one which gives the book its title. The immigrants depicted straddle two cultures while trying to assimilate in their new country without losing their cultural foundation. I had hoped to learn more about Turkish culture but some of the stories left me scratching my head. That is not to say the author is at fault however. He has spun stories filled with magic and I look forward to reading more from this talented writer.

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for the e-galley.

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I Am My Country offers 10 short stories, most of them set entirely in Turkey, and all of them about Turkish people. The stories range from magical realism or fantasy to more reliably realistic tales. Some are about siblings, some are about romantic love, and some establish tenuous relationships between virtual strangers. However, despite the diversity in subjects and themes, all of the stories here incorporate Turkey’s political turmoil into the mix. In some stories it plays a far bigger role than in others, but each has at least an element of the sociopolitical environment and the ways that impacts our characters. “The Beyoğlu Municipality Waste Management Orchestra” and “Mule Brigade” are among the most political, in these stories taking strict government issues and dramatizing them into the seemingly absurd.

My favorite story was “The Muezzin,” in which a woman is so distraught by the death of her mother that grief becomes her new identity. She has little emotional space left for her husband, and he strays. Meanwhile, it never stops raining and the politicians only add to the strain. What does it mean for two people to reconnect and move forward in the midst of chaos and certain death?

Another story that stood out is “Three Parts In Which Emre Kills His Daughters.” Emre’s head is in the clouds; he’s always reading his novels and ignoring his three teen and young adult daughters. His youngest daughter is killed at a political rally, and this trauma consumes Emre, making him even more distant from his two remaining daughters. Emre isn’t present in his daughters’ lives until it’s too late.

From antagonism between different groups within Turkey, to the country’s relationship with Cyprus and Greece, to choices we make between selfishness and community, the stories in I Am My Country give a sense of Turkey’s political landscape, history, and culture. The stories are strange but thoughtful, and though they tend toward the bleak, they make for an intriguing collection.

* A slightly longer version of this review will be published on my blog on April 25, 2023. I will add a link to my review post on that date.

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A truly stunningly unique collection of stories that shows the theme of resistance with magical realism and a beautiful writing style that will leave you speechless.

Kenan Orhans 'I Am My Country' includes stories from many perspectives in Turkey, all coming together to express their own themes. Orhans writing is wholly unique with a wonderful storyline that showcases this. 'I Am My Country' is unlike anything I have read in the best way possible. The magical elements does not distract from the main purposes of the book, but instead enhances the metaphors. While I found some of the stories lacking, overall it is a must read about persistence in the face of oppression.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for this ARC!

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I wish I was able to rate this book more than five stars. Orhan's debut short story collection is breathtaking in every sense of the word, exploring resistance, community, and more. Absolutely one of the best books I've read in 2022 - looking forward to more coming from this author in the future.

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I Am My Country is a great collection of short stories from Turkey. I really enjoyed the character's lives, as well as the magical realism sprinkled throughout.

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This is my first encounter with this author, but one I would gladly revisit. I was drawn to the descriptive and imaginative quality of the stories in this collection.

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Kenan Orhan's "I Am My Country" is honestly one of the MOST UNIQUE books I have ever read. My review for this arc was delayed simply because I sat on it for a while after my first read to allow everything to sink in and I felt the need to do a second re-read because I felt like I would appreciate it more and I DID! I say in the the best way possible, this is a STRANGE read! Strange in that it is unlike anything out there right now. I cannot even tell you what genre this belongs to nor can I give you a comparable author. Kenan Orhan is in a league of their own with this one-of-a-kind book that I can't stop thinking about.

I think the synopsis gives you a really good idea of what you're getting yourself into, but it doesn't do the book justice. This is just so so so so good. Truly, out of the 100+ books I read last year, no other book has been this "out of the box.." It's imaginative, haunting, beautiful, captivating and will make you pause and put the book down at several points because you are just so overwhelmed with the words that were written down.

This really is a stunning book and I cannot believe it does not have more reviews. I would recommend this to ANYONE. This is not only a GREAT book, it is an IMPORTANT book that touches on so many important themes that will stick with you long after you finish the book.

Thank you so much for allowing me to read such a special book. Orhan is truly talented and I look forward to what they have in store next. Totally blown away by this book. 5/5 stars absolutely.

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Given the globalization of the world, I shouldn't be surprised at this collection that spans life in contemporary Turkey. Added a splash of magic realism, enough to expand a metaphor but not too much to take over, each story is a revelation. Highly recommend.

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Enjoyed this collection! The first and last stories were the strongest in my opinion. I wish the first one was later on, but it does pull you into the rest of the collection. The stories were enjoyable and emotional.

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Sadly this just wasn't for me. I'm a huge fan of short story collections, and am always so excited when I hear about a new one that sounds interesting. I was very much interested in this one, too, as it seemed to explore such compelling themes. Unfortunately, though, I found that these stories didn't work for me. The writing was okay, but the stories themselves I found meandering and unfocused. Each story was clearly trying to make a point, but I didn't get on with the way they were written or plotted. As narratives, they didn't flow well and felt a bit jarring to read.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing me with an e-ARC of this!

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