Each novel by Nihan Kaya is also an anti-novel.
Resentment discusses and also challenges the genre of the novel through both its form and content. It incorporates the reader into the act of its own writing whilst being read.
The center of Resentment is not a character, not a theme, not a chain of events, not a unified understanding of time and geography. The center is the novel itself: Nothing is revolved around it, but we revolve around the novel as we are reading it and all our perceptions of fiction and reality are shaken.
Fragmented novel, just like life itself.
(This composit review miscellaneously contains traces of what has been said and written on the novel by various voices.)
In the last chapter of the novel, a giant woman breaks into the the apartment of the author on the seventh floor through an open window. The author finds her rummaging through the drafts of the novel (Resentment) in her living room. Feeling furious, the giant calls her to account for why she didn’t write the story of her daughter as she promised. There are various interpretations about who this giant character might be, and a popular one is that she is the giant figure who was searching for her daughter in the initial chapters. Whether she was really three meters tall or this was something fabricated by the town people who were scared of her and also tend to create fol tales remains unclear, in the same way that whether her daughter was really lost, tortured or/and murdered, or such a daughter never existed as claimed by the town people and the government -who is also held responsible by some parents to disclaim the existence of their lost children- remains unclear. The author defends herself by saying she is a novelist, not a journalist, and she wrote the story of her daughter not in the way a journalist would recount the story, but the story she was told by her is now latent in the form of a novel, and they start a debate about the theory of the novel and what a novel is and what a novel is not. The giant says this is just a piece of nonsense, not something the author may dare call a “novel” unless she is out of her mind.
The first chapter is narrated by a young man who has been a train station attendant for five years in a deserted area where trains have not passed for nine years and where no living beings, including birds and insects, have appeared for some time. Still, the young man gets up early and hoists the flag sharply at 06:00 a.m. every morning, and carries out every other part of his duty meticulously. The year is 1947 and the chapter is a call from the young man to any being who hears his call for help, as none of the resignation letters which he sends by telegraph are answered and he cannot access anyone, except a brief encounter with a mad woman crying on the railway alleging that the train took her daughter. The man -Osman Ali- tells her this is not possible as no trains have passed the railway station since 1938, but later finds a piece of flowered blue dress as decribed by the mad woman on a naked tree by the railway, and feels alarmed, as the woman suddenly disappeared out of sight in the desert right after Osman Ali dismissed what she has to say about her daughter. This is when he attempts resignation and sends out letters that are calls for help to all numbers he may find via telegraph, which is the chapter we are reading now.
The giant woman tells the author that she was merciless to leave the young man at the deserted station in 1947 all on his own and to go on with stories of other people, as well as leaving her missing daughter’s story too incomplete to be able to call for real help, and also complains as a reader that none of the other stories she went on with were completed as well. The author, however, argues that nothing in life gets completed in the way she expects a story to and it is only the bits and pieces of reality, people and events one can witness.
The novel begins with a chapter called “The Birds Are Now Also Gone”, followed by a chapter called “The Geese” in which a man who is planning to a write a novel but feels distracted by daily life and keeps postponing writing discusses the process of writing with a professional writer who has many books and who ridicules the amateur writer -which was interpreted as the two voices discussing in the author’s mind at the outset of the novel and her own fear of writing, and after eleven chapters which are both interrelated and separate, ends with a chapter called “The Swan”.
Transformation of the text from an ugly duck to a swan with its last move with the last chapter is also interwoven with references in the content, such as the way the chapter “Snow” -in which a young woman with pale white skin and dressed in all white feels cold all the time, fears leaving home, or even bed, and seeks refuge under quilts- is followed by “Red” which symbolizes both abuse -especially sexual- and the power of life.
Resentment contains subtle references to all the books -fiction and non-fiction- written by Kaya, as well as to dozens of books and characters -both from fiction and real life- she has been influenced by. The author character argues in the last chapter that “All novels speak with novels written before them as a rule.” and this is why it makes sense to discuss this overtly in the text as well, as she is doing actively in these sentences and motivates the reader with its directness.
Some readers liked the feeling of incompletion Resentment suggested or maybe even centred upon, and called the book “a whole” in the way it is while some argued that parts did not unite and therefore the text as a whole did not make sense as a novel.