The Time Regulation Institute
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
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A literary discovery: an uproarious tragicomedy of modernization, in its first-ever English translation
Perhaps the greatest Turkish novel of the twentieth century, being discovered around the world only now, more than fifty years after its first publication, The Time Regulation Institute is an antic, freewheeling send-up of the modern bureaucratic state.
At its center is Hayri Irdal, an infectiously charming antihero who becomes entangled with an eccentric cast of charactersa television mystic, a pharmacist who dabbles in alchemy, a dignitary from the lost Ottoman Empire, a clock whisperer”at the Time Regulation Institute, a vast organization that employs a hilariously intricate system of fines for the purpose of changing all the clocks in Turkey to Western time. Recounted in sessions with his psychoanalyst, the story of Hayri Irdal’s absurdist misadventures plays out as a brilliant allegory of the collision of tradition and modernity, of East and West, infused with a poignant blend of hope for the promise of the future and nostalgia for a simpler time.
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar (19011962) was a poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, literary historian, and professor. He is considered the most significant Turkish novelist of the twentieth century.
Alexander Dawe is an American translator of French and Turkish. He lives in Istanbul.
Maureen Freely is the principal translator of the Nobel Prizewinning Turkish novelist, Orhan Pamuk,. Born in the U.S., she now lives in England.
Pankaj Mishra is an award-winning novelist and essayist whose writing appears frequently in the New York Review of Books, the Guardian, and the London Review of Books. He lives in London and India.
“Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar is undoubtedly the most remarkable author in modern Turkish literature. With The Time Regulation Institute, this great writer has created an allegorical masterpiece, which makes Turkey’s attempts to westernize and its delayed modernity understandable in all its human ramifications.” —Orhan Pamuk, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
“This excellent book . . . is before all else a first-rate comic novel. . . . Not only entertaining and substantial but also, for lack of a better word, timely. For beyond the historical relevance, beyond the comic esprit, Tanpinar’s elaborate bittersweet sendup of Turkish culture over a half-century ago speaks perfectly clearly to our own, offering long-distance commiseration to anyone whose life is twisted around schedules and deadlines—pretty much everyone, in other words—provided you can find the time to read it.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Ingeniously satirical and hauntingly philosophical . . . Bracingly original . . . [A] superb translation.” —The Wall Street Journal
“A modernist novel par excellence: absurdist, obsessive, funny, dark . . . An excellent book about the terrible struggle to impose order onto inner and outer states.” —New York magazine
“A truly pathbreaking novel, at once nostalgic and modernist, contemporary and out of its time.” —Bookforum
“Spellbinding . . . A gem . . . A very funny novel, both in design and line by line . . . As compelling as a lucid dream . . . Its publication feels like a victory. . . . Both novel and author are undeniable stars and deserve, one feels, to have finally reached the world stage, showcased in a spotlight as bright as Penguin Classics.” —The National
“One of the best comic novels of twentieth century in any language.” —Guernica
“Laceratingly comic . . . [A] brilliant satire on a modernizing bureaucracy.” —Literary Review
“Like all great satire, this book will make readers laugh and cringe in equal measure. . . . [It] seamlessly combines personal wit with political satire.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Brilliantly comic . . . As you read The Time Regulation Institute, you may have the impression that you are reading a nineteenth-century novel— . . . with dozens of characters, surprising sub-plots and revelations—in short, all the good stuff of those classic French, German, English and Russian classics. So now we can add a Turkish novel to the list. . . . Tanpinar’s masterpiece [is] finally available in a glorious English translation.” —Counterpunch
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org