A cat’s life: Buket Uzuner’s “Ah bir kedi olsam”

In Turkey, street cats are an essential part of everyday life. Wherever you go, you will always come across some of these colourful creatures. From my last stay in Ankara, I unfortunately couldn’t bring back a cat but at least I could take home Buket Uzuner’s latest book Ah bir kedi olsam! (If I could only be a cat!).

We all know it: The best children’s books are not for children alone. Adults can enjoy them just as much. Buket Uzuner’s recent children’s book is a real page-turner which makes you forget about your age. The story is as simple as it is deep: The little boy Can wants a cat. After long discussions and constant begging, the orange tabby kitten Fındık (meaning “hazelnut”) is welcomed into the family. Soon, Can discovers that Fındık already has a mind of her own and does as she pleases. During sad times, she turns into Can’s closest friend and his best consolation.

The life of a cat seems to be paradise on earth. Cats can sleep as long as they like and dream all day. They don’t have to go to school, don’t have to obey and don’t have any obligations whatsoever. Who wouldn’t want to be a cat? Especially when you have to live in a home like Can’s where the parents no longer talk to each other and the unhappy silence within the walls is suffocating…

On a night of full moon, Can and his mother make a wish: They want to become cats to live a life without worries. What happens after that is for the reader to find out. The characters Buket Uzuner describes are amusing and endearing. We get to know Can’s superstitious grandmother, his grumpy grandfather, a melodramatic housekeeper, a secretive cat detective and many others whose behaviour will put a smile on every child’s and adult’s face.

A look at Oğuz Demir’s sweet illustrations of the orange tabby kitten Fındık is sufficient to fall in love with this little creature. With her original children’s book, Buket Uzuner manages to wake up the sleeping child in all of us. She shows us that we need to protect our childlike innocence and allow ourselves to dream. After all, some wishes might come true if you follow your heart.

 

Paris, 18/05/2017              © Mine Krause


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