At the Breakfast Table (Hardcover)
Told from four different perspectives, At the Breakfast Table is a story of hidden histories and family secrets, from the author of The Silence of Scheherazade.
Prinkipo Island, Turkey, 2017. In the glow of a late summer morning, family gather for the 100th birthday of the famous artist Sirin Saka. It ought to be a time of fond reminiscence, looking back on a long and fruitful artistic career, on memories spanning almost a century, but also of an era when imperial forces fought over her homeland.
But the deep past is something Sirin has spent a lifetime trying to conceal. Her grandchildren, Nur and Fikret, and great grandchild, Selin, do not know what Sirin is hiding, though they are intimately aware of the secret's psychological consequences. The siblings invite family friend and investigative journalist Burak along to interview Sirin for his weekly column in celebration of her 100th year. They hope he will help unravel the family secrets and persuade her to talk. Sirin's life-long servant, Sadik, is determined to do all he can to protect the artist.
Eventually Sirin begins to express her pain the only way she knows how. She paints the story onto her dining room wall, revealing a history wiped from public consciousness and the cause of her family's anguish that has sat, ruinous, in their subconscious for generations.
Betsy Göksel is an American teacher and translator who has lived in Turkey since the 1960's. Her translations include The Hate Trap by Haluk Sahin as well as several books on art and architecture for the Istanbul Municipality.
"Fiercely intelligent, finely textured and achingly beautiful." —Elif Shafak
'In At the Breakfast Table, Defne Suman, one of Turkey's most popular writers, writes about family secrets, people's inner problems, love and the losses through life. Suman builds on Eastern philosophy and yoga, among other things, when she is to shed light on the book's great secret' Anne Buset Vassbotn (Norway)
'It is very easy for Greek readers to love Suman, to identify with her heroes, to look for their own ancestral memories among the memories of her heroes. But the most important thing about a novel is that it hides a beautiful story, and the author knows how to tell it' Erika Athanasiou (Greece)
'The image of the Prinkipo island with its carriages, bicycles, the blue sea that surrounds it, its blooming flowers and purple bougainvillea, give a brilliant tone to the novel. The historical touch offers realism and mystery' Lefki Sarantinou (Greece)
'At the Breakfast Table is an excellent novel in the footsteps of modern Turkish literature as defined by Livaneli and Pamuk. It is a well-written book which reminds us that history is not necessarily what we learn in school' Angelos Koutsoukis (Greece)
'Suman listens and understands a wounded geography with an open heart – a trait that is rarely found among Turkish intellectuals. She challenges the common belief and narrates beautifully' Derya Beyatlı, Yeni Düzen Newspaper (Turkey)
"A story lovingly told of very intensely personal conflicts and...the history and pain of an entire people."—Booklist Reviews