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Head of Zeus
At the Breakfast Table by 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, and 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.

Praise for The Silence of Scheherazade:

'Suman's voice and descriptions are so unique and enveloping. I love the characters and reading her work is an utterly delightful experience' Buki Papillon, author of An Ordinary Wonder

'The Silence of Scheherazade is a magnificent and illuminating historical novel concerned with every day life in the diverse Ottoman Empire' Foreword

'At once breathtakingly sweeping and textured with alluringly fine detail, this beautifully written story set in the Aegean city of Smyrna in the lead up to WWI is a sumptuous tour de force' LoveReading

'Suman deftly paints a picture of a city which endures occupation after occupation, a quiescent powder keg inching closer and closer to the flame with each influx of new political superpowers ... Suman's tale is at its heart about those small people living their daily lives within the city, loving each other and the land beneath them ... Göksel handles the translation of this complex tale just as skillfully as Suman herself weaves it' Asympote

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Historical Fiction
01 Sep 2022 * 480pp * £7.99 * 9781800247031
'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)
Defne Suman
Defne Suman
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.
ALSO BY Defne Suman
The Silence of Scheherazade

Betsy Göksel

Betsy Göksel
Betsy Göksel is an American teacher and translator who has lived in Turkey since the 1960's. Her translations include The Hate Trap by Haluk Şahin as well as several books on art and architecture for the Istanbul Municipality.
ALSO BY Betsy Göksel
The Silence of Scheherazade