The following is excerpted from the Quill & Quire review of To the Spring, by Night by Seyhmus Dagtekin.
Seyhmus Dagtekin, a Kurdish poet and writer born in Turkey but living in Paris, gently unfolds a story that reads like a cross between a memoir and a sacred text. Told in the first person and set in an unspecified past, the novel chronicles one boy’s childhood in an isolated Kurdish village in the mountains of Turkey, where every spring, rock, and falling star has a story that must be remembered and understood. Few names are given, little dialogue used, and the impersonal and inclusive pronouns “we” and “us” predominate, but the text is richly embroidered with myth and legend, political and social history.
Oral tradition informs the narrative, which focuses thematically on the way memory works. Repetition is used throughout as a unifying tactic. The repeated word “gaze,” for instance, recalls the story of tortoises that opens the book. “And so,” Dagtekin writes, “... tortoises have prolonged their time on earth thanks to their slowness and steady gaze that looks beyond the signs all beings make and sees them in the light of their earliest awakenings to the world.”
Metaphorically dense and clearly told, this novel is a remarkable feat of storytelling that tempts the reader to dig further into the mysteries of the story and seek out more information about the history that informs it.