ISBN #: 978-0143106739
Page Count: 432
Copyright: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Classics
(Taken from Goodreads)
A literary discovery: an uproarious tragicomedy of modernization, in its first-ever English translation
Perhaps the greatest Turkish novel of the twentieth century, being discovered around the world only now, more than fifty years after its first publication, The Time Regulation Institute is an antic, freewheeling send-up of the modern bureaucratic state.
At its center is Hayri Irdal, an infectiously charming antihero who becomes entangled with an eccentric cast of characters—a television mystic, a pharmacist who dabbles in alchemy, a dignitary from the lost Ottoman Empire, a “clock whisperer”—at the Time Regulation Institute, a vast organization that employs a hilariously intricate system of fines for the purpose of changing all the clocks in Turkey to Western time. Recounted in sessions with his psychoanalyst, the story of Hayri Irdal’s absurdist misadventures plays out as a brilliant allegory of the collision of tradition and modernity, of East and West, infused with a poignant blend of hope for the promise of the future and nostalgia for a simpler time.
Hayri is just an ordinary guy - no special talents, and not blessed with wealth. Yet he falls into a variety of strange circumstances. It seems like he is swept along by life, rather than an active participant. I think the heart of this book examines this concept – how much of our lives are shaped by our actions, vs. the actions of others which affect us? Hayri falls into the Time Regulation Institute (which really only makes its first appearance in the second half of the book) because of who he knows and through a series of misconstrued stories about him others have exaggerated on his behalf.
For me, this book was a little bit hard to follow because I am not familiar at all with Turkish culture and the titles they give one another. The title “Bey” follows many of the men’s names and seems to be a title of respect. But that made it hard to keep up with who was who. I found many of the events within the book to be amusing, but I also didn’t really understand a lot of what was going on.
For that reason, I’m going to limit my recommendation to people who might have an interest in history, or desire to know more about Turkish culture and literature or who enjoy literary fiction and are looking for something different.
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.