Nazlı Koca’s debut novel, The Applicant, is a gut-wrenching story that may make you snigger but additionally query why and whether or not you have to be laughing in any respect.
Immigrant and refugee experiences could be surreal and nightmarish, however for these fortunate sufficient to succeed in their locations, life could be stuffed with a sudden Kafkaesque darkish humor. Such is the case for Koca’s protagonist, Leyla, a Turkish immigrant in Berlin. After failing out of college, Leyla tries to sue her method again right into a scholar visa, whereas within the meantime working at an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland-themed lodge.
As Leyla navigates Berlin’s nightlife, looking for some kind of solace, she meets a right-wing Swedish vacationer, and all of a sudden she has an in: She will keep in Germany if she accepts a conventional, conservative life, though it might imply giving up her profession in artwork. Initially this discount appears higher than returning to Turkey to reside together with her mom and sister, however finally Leyla begins to query what she is admittedly looking for.
Written in diary type, The Applicant is sure to attract many comparisons to different works (I discovered it to be like an inversion of the German movie Ali: Worry Eats the Soul), however the obvious is to Sylvia Plath’s poem by the identical identify. Each items play with the concept of conformity, and whereas Plath focuses on the commercialization of femininity, Koca takes a extra racialized strategy. Leyla experiences refined racism from virtually each character, and thru these interactions, we witness the convergence of various ideologies of racial supremacy on account of immigration, and the way, with the presence of her Swedish lover, white supremacy holds punitive energy over all of them. Via the diary format, we get an inside take a look at Leyla’s compelled conformity in what is probably a response to the surreal, dehumanizing laundry record Plath wrote a long time in the past.
Regardless of these similarities, The Applicant is a really distinctive guide, significantly in its profound world scope. Leyla meets characters from everywhere in the world who’ve come to Europe looking for a greater life. Her romantic beliefs of Berlin shatter early on, and she or he is left jaded and hooked on medication, falling into the precise stereotype she idealized artistically. This underscores Koca’s best energy: her skill to seek out the tragedy, irony and humor within the immigrant expertise, displaying us how world energy has warped our skill to seek out happiness and to even know what happiness is.
This can be a highly effective guide that pinpoints precisely the place our contradictions lie. It’s so highly effective, in truth, that it might probably do all this whereas nonetheless making you snigger.