Four Stars for The Time Regulation Institute by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar

Something completely different today. As most of you know, I spend a lot of my time reading horror. But I’m also always on the lookout for literary fiction that has a heart. The Time Regulation Institute by Ahment Hamdi Tanpinar is just such a book.

How this book came to be published in English is almost as interesting as the story itself. Released 50 years ago in Turkey, The Time Regulation Institute has been rediscovered and translated into English for a new generation and a new audience. There’s a lesson there for writers, readers, and all of society. Literature is timeless, and it can speak to us in different ways throughout the decades. Here’s the synopsis.

Old Istanbul aristocrats, Turkish teashops, imperial diamonds, and great and humble mosques are juxtaposed with the almost non-descriptive portrayals of neighborhood friendships, family relations, and local public figures who could be found in any city in Turkey or, perhaps, any Eastern setting where the old way of life adopts new and Western counterparts. Ahmet H. Tanpinar’s portrayal of modern, post-Ottoman Turkey weaves a theater of the absurd, suggestively representative of the early days of the young Republic. This translation is introduced by an essay by the late Berna Moran, a leading Turkish literary critic.

The Time Regulation Institute is an ironic and biting satire of a period in Turkish history where Turkey was locked between the old world of the Ottoman Empire and the new world of the West. Much as Turkey still straddles two continents and multiple cultures, the Turkey of the 1930s straddled two ways of life, as different and incompatible as one could imagine. The shock of that transition–with the rise of new bureaucracies and even a new language–forms the basis of the story in The Time Regulation Institute. It’s hard to adequately describe the plot of The Time Regulation Institute. Just take my word for it–you won’t find a more beautifully written book, which is a credit to the translator as well as the author, and you will get a great look into a culture you probably don’t know that much about.

4 Stars

P.S. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review, and is my policy, I’d like to give it away to one of my lucky readers if they will also post a review on Amazon and Goodreads. So, the first person to email me about it gets the book!

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