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Head of Zeus
At the Breakfast Table
01 Sep 2022 * HARDBACK * £20 * 9781800247000

Told from four different perspectives, At the Breakfast Table is a story of hidden histories and family secrets, revealing the psychological consequences of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

Fiction / FA (Fiction)
Extent: 416 pages  Format: 229 x 148 mm
Exclusive: GB CA AU NZ IN ZA SG US
The Silence of Scheherazade
Also by Defne Suman
At the Breakfast Tableby Defne Suman, translated by Betsy Göksel

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.

Defne Suman was born in Istanbul and grew up on Prinkipo Island. She gained a Masters in sociology from the Bosphorus University then worked as a teacher in Thailand and Laos where she studied Far Eastern philosophy and mystic disciplines. She later continued her studies in Oregon, USA and now lives in Athens with her husband. Her English language debut The Silence of Scheherazade was published by Head of Zeus in 2021.

Like Min Jin Lee's Pachinko, this novel brings to light an important period of history through the eyes of unforgettable characters – from 1917 to 2017.

Perfect for book clubs and events – issues of race and religion, nationhood and cultural identity relevant to our world today.

MARKET: Min Jin Lee; Arundhati Roy; 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)

In At the Breakfast Table Suman continues to explore the themes and tropes that prevail in her previous novels, presenting them to the reader in new dimensions... Altogether, these premises establish a narrative network of signification, through which the philosophical core of Suman's work can be discerned' Ülker Gökberk, Reed College

'Defne Suman brings lightness to the hearts of her readers as the characters of At the Breakfast Table reclaim their identity and freedom from the burden of family secrets and the false pretense of living as if no sin has been committed in this land' Yaprak Çetinkaya, Pozitif Magazine (Turkey)

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