Novel, 224 pages, 2014, ISBN: 978-975-07-1860-1, 10+, Cover illustration by Sedat Girgin

Afi, who is the protagonist of Sevim Ak’s latest novel “Newspaper Whispering”, is a 12 year old boy sharing similar tastes and habits with most boys born into the era of technology and consumption.

 

Afi has a sister. She accompanied him until birth; however they didn’t get to see the light of day together. Afi builds a secret friendship with Kozi, whose grave lies underneath the magnolia tree in the garden. His sister, who nobody else ever gets to see, never leaves Afi’s side.

 

Kozi, with her body covered with flowers and leaves and with an expertise on plants, is the complete opposite of Afi “the technology boy”. She becomes the inner voice of Afi as he struggles for his existence and to grow up; she offers him a unique perspective on death, life and nature. The new approaches that he discovers through his conversations with Kozi, affects his attitude towards daily events and situations, his choices and his behavior.

 

Afi begins to stray from the idea of absolute death. He grows up believing in the reality that there is a fine line between life and death and they coexist. He encounters those living on that fine line and he keeps finding himself in situations where he is in way over his head.

 

Afi finds himself following a lead at the hospital as a result of a peculiar coincidence, when his path crosses that of Sude’s. He manages to put himself in Sude’s position, who, for the last 6 years, has been accompanying her mother living in a vegetative state. He explores the concept of “the right to life”.

 

These explorations take place in various forms with several people; one day he gets the chance to get closely acquainted with his class mate Berti. This interaction introduces him to a new side of life. He realize that the school path that he haphazardly walks through every day, feeling completely secure and guarded might be a complete mine field for someone else.

 

Another significant character entering his life is Uncle Oklit; he not only helps Afi bond a relationship with plants and the botanical world, but also acts as a guide for him regarding many topics, including art. He defies the “exhibitionism” that most of us fell into as a result of the new media. He searches for “the natural” as he feeds off of nature.

 

Afi learns to listen to the whisperings in the newspapers; as he faces daily issues of various segments of the society, trying to steer clear of the sterile and monotonous side of life, ‘the story teller girl’, ‘the giant without fingers’ and ‘the homeless magician’ give him a life experience that no book ever could; he gets to know of lives that he never paid attention to before.

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