I’ve just finished this. It reminded me a lot of A Confederacy of Dunces – in a good way, of course. Both books have itinerant idealists as their hero, Ignatius with his hot dogs and Mevlut a drink called boza. And both ultimately come from Don Quijote, I think. It’s a sprawling multi-generational pot-boiler that centres around the lives of a family who move to Istanbul from a village in Anatolia in the 1960s. Mevlut sees his cousins and uncles go up in the world thanks to graft and deceit, but Mevlut himself can’t fathom out dishonesty and never gives up his original job as a street vendor. In the end it becomes a psychological more than a material necessity – he has to keep moving so he can keep thinking. Mevlut is the Iain Sinclair of Istanbul, in a way, and his dérives in its endlessly-expanding neighbourhoods embody the idea that walking and thinking are actually the same thing. The thing he’s thinking of all the time is an enigma about his life that’s always perplexed him. It’s fantastic stuff – I loved it and felt sad to say goodbye to all the characters.
After the last page is this photo, which maybe even is the last page, who knows: