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“Uzun Yürüyüş” by Ayhan Geçgin is a unique and intense novel, able to convey an incredible sense of emptiness which is essential to rediscover ourselves
“Uzun Yürüyüş” by Ayhan Geçgin
Determined to get rid of everything, including his own identity, the novel’s protagonist sets off on a long journey in order to find an isolated place to take shelter. He leaves the house with a backpack on his shoulders, one morning, at dawn. At first he drags himself through the parks of the city, in the suburbs, almost like a homeless person. One day, however, he wakes up in pain in a hospital bed. A doctor makes him understand that he has been beaten by the police, who also show up in the ward and open a file on him. Released from the hospital before his resignation, now without a name, the man gets back on the road. He is weak, he begins to forget the reason that prompted him to leave. What is he looking for? And why? Where is he going? Walking along a road, he is stopped by some soldiers who force him into a quick arrest. When he resumes his journey, hunger, thirst, cold and rain work his now skeletal body. It’s true, the mind loses lucidity, but his spirit acquires lightness. What was he looking for when he left? He does not know it. Now the only desire of him is to complete the journey. But to where? And why? In a moving adventure between cities and mountains, innocents and executioners, guerrilla warfare and silence, the author gives the reader a cardinal work of the new existentialist literature. Is there an end, a goal in the long journey of human life? Maybe yes. But the search has unpredictable results.
An absolute novel
“Uzun Yürüyüş” is, to date, without any doubt the most authentic revelation of this year, a truly unique and particular text which, in its simplicity and naturalness, often biting, will take us into the depths of the soul of the protagonist, a character whose sole purpose seems to be to untie himself from this earthly life. Precisely because of its uniqueness, it is really difficult to tell this text; I could make a mere description of the events, but this would not give the book the right weight and value, elements which in this case are more than ever linked to what Geçgin’s pen conveys.
Like great texts such as “L’Etranger” by Camus, in fact, the novelist’s aim is not so much to tell a story, but rather to use the narration to infuse the reader with sensations, the most present of which is certainly the immense sense of emptiness that populates the mind of the protagonist. In fact, during each of his movements and vicissitudes, we have the continuous and constant certainty that nothing is destined to last and this can only convey to the reader a continuous sense of absolute emptiness; as if the life of every human being proceeds on pre-established plots which, if followed carefully, lead us to live well, but in gilded cages.
In this regard, the path and the choice of the protagonist are very reminiscent of those typical of the Sufi world, the mysticism of Islam, in which its followers often and willingly choose to abandon everything to reach the Absolute. The big difference, however, is that in their case the sense of the divine is so strong as to be transcendental, while here it is essentially absent. In this respect, “Uzun Yürüyüş” even seems like a “post-Sufi” novel, i.e. a text which, while maintaining a constant connection with that world, is as if it had overcome the concept of faith and the divine, but without the latter he has the sensation of being in front of an immense empty ocean, without a soul.
And yet, the fact that he doesn’t have a soul doesn’t prevent him from following exactly the same steps taken by those figures, so much so that, especially towards the end of the work, he has the feeling that even the protagonist is trying to merge with something, but this case is about the earth and nature. Like the Sufis, in fact, he seems to be, rather than looking for a place, looking for a sensation or rather being free from his own condition of humanity. It is no coincidence that there are many points in the novel in which he does not fully understand whether he is alive or dead and just as often he finds himself wishing to be like plants: extremely united with the earth, but at the same time freed from activities such as feeding himself, going to the bathroom or many other things that punctuate the life of every human being and animal.
I could still say a lot about this incredible text, but the truth is that one of those novels that must be read to try to fully understand its essence; in any case I’m sure that, like me, you cannot fail to be fascinated and enchanted by a universe which, although apparently very far from us, actually lives deep inside us and its discovery is essential to better discover who we are and what is our path.
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