Tuğba Benli Özenç
Radikal Newspaper, September 21, 2007

While I was reading the Wings of Israfel, I went through doors which open to another novel which feeds the novel in time that opens one after another like the petals around the roses. I must admit that I had difficulty as a reader because Hakan Yaman’s ‘first novel’ is full of details that required exhausting work. The past which begins with Sultan Mahmud’s reign in the Ottoman Era and Turkey in 1950s are narrated without ignoring but completing each other. What is narrated is ‘our times’ in a historical perspective just the way it should be. The real characters and settings, fictional characters bring enchanted stories to life in an imaginary world. Raffi, David, Teodor and Omar…

The young men who affect one another’s points of view, perspectives in life and tastes; who take pleasure in similar things; who are interested in the same subjects. They share ‘secrets’ among the rubble of a ruined house in Kuzguncuk in 1950s. These talks made with the excitement of youth, accompanied by cheap wine and a lot of cigarette smoke, are about daily activities, school, the girls at school… Then the topics get more serious: everything from philosophy, death, existence, nonexistence to being a member of NATO or the earthquake in Erzurum. The dialogues which give the impression that Dostoyevsky is at work have an extremely fluent and natural tone, illuminating and exciting atmosphere, and melancholy which makes the reader oversensitive. It is during these talks when they decide to trace the lost book which Omar’s grandfather told him about. They start to look for this unique, mysterious book that ‘possesses the quality of explaining the creation of mankind, angels, many truths that are in existence and nonexistence, the elements in the universe such as the air, the water, the fire and the earth, all the known creations such as stones, plants, animals, genies and human beings, spiritual forces and all the heavenly truths, innumerable and unaccountable powers and divine works’, ‘the book of truths’, as the pasha grandfather called it. 

They look for it in the places of knowledge and science of Istanbul, in the libraries, in the past and in the future, in themselves and in the others. Another novel is looking at the reader from its own time. The hunchbacked silhouette of Sultan Mahmud at the large window of the palace overlooking the Bosphorus looks as if he came to life in the flesh. Turning the dusty pages of history, the writer starts the formidable adventure of the book which was stolen by a slave, Milos, later called Kalabalık Hasan Pasha as the Grand Vizier, narrates, as slowly as the past story teller, Istanbul of the period with its all sounds, smells, its pathetic, terrible but magnificent atmosphere, the sultanate which is about to fade away, the fear, the opium, the pleasures, the religion and the science. French travelers ( Emile Gautier…), sorcerer sultans, men of religion, characters such as Ibrahim Muteferrika… big fires, wars, spoils, defeats, plague epidemics… sinister streets of Istanbul.

When the writer makes one character of the novel (Omar) read a novel written by another character, he gives explanation to us, the readers in front of the screen. Sending that rich cast back to their dark corners, he prepares the final scene. The book goes from a dark dry well and ancient principles of thought to its creator which goes to the One from the East, West, North and South; the figure on the cover of the book turns into a demon-like being in front of the priest or becomes Israfel who blows the Sur in front of Ibrahim Muteferrika. The book which finds its soul in the mullah’s interpretations and in different beliefs presents itself so that you can follow the path you have found to understand the universe if you want to look for and find the past and the future, existence and none-existence, so that you will remember the search never ends and you are a ‘mortal’ passenger.