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Bloomsbury's Swainson buys 'Turkish Franz Kafka'

Bloomsbury has signed rights to two novels from an author described as the 'Turkish Franz Kafka'.

Following a British Council and London Book Fair publisher¹s visit to Istanbul in November last year, Bill Swainson (pictured) at Bloomsbury and Anton Mueller at Bloomsbury USA jointly acquired world English rights in Hasan Ali Totpas¹ 1995 novel Shadowless, and his latest book, Waste.

Rights to both were acquired from Barbaros Altug at the Istanbul Copyright Agency. The books will be translated into English by Maureen Freely, who has previously translated novels by Orhan Pamuk, and John Angliss.

Shadowless is set both in a barber¹s shop in a big Turkish city where the customers dream of the villages they left behind, and in a small Anatolian village where the people dream of the big city. Alongside runs a whodunnit concerning a missing barber and the most beautiful girl in the village.

Waste, which was released this month in Turkey, tells the story of two poor conscripts in the Turkish army, whose friendship is tested when they return to a peaceful village.

Swainson said: "The visit to Istanbul was extremely well organized and the publishers who went on it had the chance of meeting leading Turkish literary publishers and agents, and a good number of writers, to see something of the city and to begin to get a sense of the Turkish literary scene.

"The first moment I heard about Hasan Ali Toptas and his fiction, I thought he sounded exceptional, and I am now looking forward to a long publishing relationship with this remarkable author who has already been described by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as Œthe Turkish Franz Kafka".

Toptas was working as a civil servant in a tax office when he paid to self-publish his first collection of stories in 1987, before he found literary success with Shadowless. His 2005 novel East of Slumbers won the Orhan-Kemal Prize, Turkey¹s highest literary award.