Walking on the Ceiling
A mesmerizing novel set in Paris and a changing Istanbul, about a young Turkish woman grappling with her past - her country’s and her own - and her complicated relationship with the famous British writer who longs for her memories.After her mother’s death, Nunu moves from Istanbul to a small apartment in Paris. One day outside of a bookstore, she meets M., an older British writer whose novels about Istanbul Nunu has always admired. They find themselves walking the streets of Paris and talking late into the night. What follows is an unusual friendship of eccentric correspondence and long walks around the city.M. is working on a new novel set in Turkey and Nunu tells him about her family, hoping to impress and inspire him. She recounts the idyllic landscapes of her past, mythical family meals, and her elaborate childhood games. As she does so, she also begins to confront her mother’s silence and anger, her father’s death, and the growing unrest in Istanbul. Their intimacy deepens, so does Nunu’s fear of revealing too much to M. and of giving too much of herself and her Istanbul away. Most of all, she fears that she will have to face her own guilt about her mother and the narratives she’s told to protect herself from her memories.A wise and unguarded glimpse into a young woman’s coming into her own, Walking on the Ceiling is about memory, the pleasure of invention, and those places, real and imagined, we can’t escape.

Walking on the Ceiling Details

TitleWalking on the Ceiling
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 30th, 2019
PublisherRiverhead Books
ISBN-139780525537410
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Cultural, France

Walking on the Ceiling Review

  • Will
    January 1, 1970
    Aysegül Savas’ slim debut novel is strange and lovely, captivating yet elusive. Without a clearly defined linear plot, the novel is constructed on the narrator’s memories, presented in short chapters, often no more than a page or two, even a single sentence. The bulk of the novel alternates between Paris with its memories of a friendship with an unnamed British author and Istanbul with memories of an often puzzling and painful childhood. These memories can be sharp and clear or purposely evasive Aysegül Savas’ slim debut novel is strange and lovely, captivating yet elusive. Without a clearly defined linear plot, the novel is constructed on the narrator’s memories, presented in short chapters, often no more than a page or two, even a single sentence. The bulk of the novel alternates between Paris with its memories of a friendship with an unnamed British author and Istanbul with memories of an often puzzling and painful childhood. These memories can be sharp and clear or purposely evasive. The writing itself is spare, elegant, permeated with melancholy and a deep sense of loneliness, prose where a single sentence can startle and resonate deeply.
    more
  • Krista
    January 1, 1970
    Some days, it's difficult to believe that this friendship really existed – with its particular logic, its detachment from the world. What I remember has the texture of a dream, an invention, a strange and weightless suspension, like walking on the ceiling. Walking on the Ceiling is a strange little novel to pigeonhole – it's so wispy and spare, yet sketches a life in a way that we all would recognise as faithful to the processes of memory, storytelling, and self-mythologising. With a main chara Some days, it's difficult to believe that this friendship really existed – with its particular logic, its detachment from the world. What I remember has the texture of a dream, an invention, a strange and weightless suspension, like walking on the ceiling. Walking on the Ceiling is a strange little novel to pigeonhole – it's so wispy and spare, yet sketches a life in a way that we all would recognise as faithful to the processes of memory, storytelling, and self-mythologising. With a main character who thinks about her time in Paris after she returns to her hometown of Istanbul, and who had spent her time in Paris talking about Istanbul, the reader is not only treated to an intimate portrait of both cities but is witness to a damaged young woman's coming-of-age; a reckoning with her past and a squaring off to the future. Everything feels small about this book – from the weight of it in the hands to chapters as brief as two sentences – but its impact is big; call me impressed with this debut by Turkish writer Ayşegül Savaş. (Note: I read an ARC and passages quoted may not be in their final forms.) I think more and more these days that I should set down some of the facts of my friendship with M., to keep something of this time intact. But stories are reckless things, blind to everything but their own shape. When you tell a story, you set out to leave so much behind. And I have to admit that there is no shape in those long walks and conversations, even if I think of them often. As Nurunisa (Nunu) tells her story, we learn that she was raised in Instanbul – her father was a poet who died young and her mother never quite got over her widowhood – and in order to escape the sadness of her homelife, Nunu went abroad to study; eventually enrolling in a Masters program in literature in Paris. While in Paris, she meets the famous British author she refers to only as “M.” – a man whose popular English language books about Istanbul had been a favourite of Nunu's, but which her mother mocked as obviously the limited views of a foreigner – and as the pair strike up a friendship and begin to go on long walks around the city and have frequent email conversations, Nunu finds herself carefully choosing and shaping the sorts of stories that she'll tell the author about the reality of having grown up in Istanbul – stories that are often not faithful to that reality, or stories of her mother's that she has co-opted as her own. As the book goes on and Nunu remembers conversations that she had had with her undergrad college roommate and a later live-in boyfriend, she reveals that this cribbing and fibbing is something she has always done – to her roommate, making her mother sound lovely; to her boyfriend, making her sound horrid. The shortest chapter in its entirety: I'm trying to say that I've tried to tell a story about her many times. But none have resembled my mother. Because Walking on the Ceiling is a book about writers (Nunu herself becomes a journalist at a travel magazine after she returns to a now volatile Istanbul), there are frequent meditations on the nature of writing and storytelling (which is something I like when it's done well, as it is here). On the one hand, one assumes that M. will appropriate Nunu's stories for his latest “Thracian” novel, but on the other, she's aware of that fact and carefully curates what she shares; it's hard to say who's using whom, and especially when these conversations help Nunu to sort things out in her own mind. Stories have their own logic. For one thing, a story can only be told once it has an ending. For another, it builds, and then unravels. Each element of a story is essential; its time will come and it will ultimately mean something. In this way, stories are accountable, because they can look you in the eye. Eventually, each element in this novel reveals its importance along the way, and Nunu's story feels both particular and universal. The fact that this happens in so short a space feels powerful and precise. A lovely read.
    more
  • Maddie C.
    January 1, 1970
    Three and a half stars.'Walking on the Ceiling' is a beautiful slim debut novel that unravels a writer of incredible maturity and establishes Aysegül Savas as a talent to watch. I got a sense of familiarity while reading this story, which reminded me of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend in voice and Lisa Halliday’s Asymmetry in some of its themes -- however, 'Walking on the Ceiling' is still its own work of art.More a slice of life novel than a plot-driven one, we are introduced to Nurunisa o Three and a half stars.'Walking on the Ceiling' is a beautiful slim debut novel that unravels a writer of incredible maturity and establishes Aysegül Savas as a talent to watch. I got a sense of familiarity while reading this story, which reminded me of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend in voice and Lisa Halliday’s Asymmetry in some of its themes -- however, 'Walking on the Ceiling' is still its own work of art.More a slice of life novel than a plot-driven one, we are introduced to Nurunisa or, Nunu, as everyone refers to her, as she recounts the events of a summer in Paris and her childhood in Istanbul. Besides being a beautiful love letter to both cities, with its lush descriptions, the story is also charged with a subtle melancholy and, at the same time, a sense of urgency, as we follow Nunu’s coming-of-age tale and learn how her troubled relationship with her mother and father shaped her to become who she is and how she connects with other people (notably, M., the british writer she befriends in Paris, but also with other minor figures in her life, like her friends in Istanbul or her college roommate, Molly). As the novel relies heavily on Nunu’s memories of events, there is also discussions of memory, in the vein of Patrick Modiano (which is listed as an influence in the ‘acknowledgements’ section) and how fickle it is, how certain events may seem important at a certain time only to vanish completely later and how two people can recall the same occurrences in different ways. It is this rich interior life that makes the novel interesting and Nunu great company to spend an afternoon with.In the end, while there isn’t exactly a neat “happily ever after”, we sense a glimpse of hope for the acceptance of one’s self in the arc of an otherwise tortured character.
    more
  • Paltia
    January 1, 1970
    At one point in this story Nunu is asked if she had dropped her invisible thread to M. Nunu is a young woman who has dropped this thread to several people from her past. She leaves London and her relationship with Luke behind when she learns her mother is ill. She returns to Istanbul to care for her until her death. With that she leaves a city she no longer recognizes and heads for Paris. Here she meets M an author. She knows M through his books and feels an affinity with him even before they me At one point in this story Nunu is asked if she had dropped her invisible thread to M. Nunu is a young woman who has dropped this thread to several people from her past. She leaves London and her relationship with Luke behind when she learns her mother is ill. She returns to Istanbul to care for her until her death. With that she leaves a city she no longer recognizes and heads for Paris. Here she meets M an author. She knows M through his books and feels an affinity with him even before they meet. As fate would have it they begin a relationship that is, at first, based solely on corresponding. The loss of her parents and home as she once knew it has left her feeling empty. Those threads are gone. She is seeking a way to reconnect with life. For a time, through their letters, M appears to offer Nunu a way through her loss. He could be a person that will bring some peace into her troubled life. They share stories and a place of refuge. She begins to rely on M as her anchor in the storm. They eventually agree to meet in person. For a time he offers a hand that reaches out to steady her when life’s lessons are hard. Does he guide her to remembering the stories she shares? “That’s how I remember our friendship. We passed our stories back and forth until they merged. And with each pass, we lightened our own burden.” Though she is hard pressed to fully explain why she acknowledges that her fear causes change. A shield is raised - a shield made of assumptions and anxieties. Words and gestures can be misused and misinterpreted to cause skepticism and separation. The temporary unity that replaced her desolation and fragmentation when they first connected and held the invisible thread seems to be gone. This is a rather sad and lonely story with a spark of growth and self realization. Human weaknesses and woundings are coupled with Nunu’s ability to find a way to a more enduring understanding of how she influenced and in turn was influenced by others.
    more
  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    I fell in love with the quiet intensity of Savas's narrator, Nunu. The story is framed by Nunu’s move from Istanbul to Paris, and the friendship she strikes up with an older British author as she skips out on university classes and wanders from café to café. It’s a kind of travel narrative, in the geographical shift between the two cities, in Nunu’s memories of a rapidly shifting and morphing Istanbul, and in her own processing of trauma, loss, and identity. What truly propels the narrative, how I fell in love with the quiet intensity of Savas's narrator, Nunu. The story is framed by Nunu’s move from Istanbul to Paris, and the friendship she strikes up with an older British author as she skips out on university classes and wanders from café to café. It’s a kind of travel narrative, in the geographical shift between the two cities, in Nunu’s memories of a rapidly shifting and morphing Istanbul, and in her own processing of trauma, loss, and identity. What truly propels the narrative, however, is Nunu’s rich and complex interior – she is sharp, critically observant, quick and blunt in her analysis of the driving motivations of those around her. She’s also deeply imaginative – the book is filled with her poetic articulations of the world around her. Each chapter is short – the longest are 5-6 pages – and vignette-like in its snapshot of Nunu’s past or present, making the book wonderful for shorter or longer sittings. There’s so much to process and return to here. I’m excited to hand-sell it in April, and eagerly await more from this new voice in fiction.
    more
  • Anna Luce
    January 1, 1970
    ★★✰✰✰ 2 starsI don't mind plotless novels or meandering stories but there has to be something that holds my attention. Some of my favourite books feature characters with little to no backstory, and simply focus on a time of their life or certain feelings that they experience throughout the course of their life. What I am 'getting at' is that I started Walking on the Ceiling knowing that I wasn't going to get a straightforward story. However, even if I was prepared for a more 'metaphysical' type ★★✰✰✰ 2 starsI don't mind plotless novels or meandering stories but there has to be something that holds my attention. Some of my favourite books feature characters with little to no backstory, and simply focus on a time of their life or certain feelings that they experience throughout the course of their life. What I am 'getting at' is that I started Walking on the Ceiling knowing that I wasn't going to get a straightforward story. However, even if I was prepared for a more 'metaphysical' type of novel, I wasn't expecting such a pointlessly self-indulgent narrative.The nonlinear timeline makes the story all the more irritating. There is this narrator who could as well be nameless given how boring she is. Her only characteristic is that she lies or acts in obscure ways for no reason whats-over. Although she is presented as this deep and complex character who is grappling with her past, she is a self-pitying and singularly uninteresting individual. A few months ago I read The Far Field which featured a very 'remote' main character, but there her self-restraint worked well. I believed her and why she was unable to express herself to others characters and the readers. But here....the protagonist comes across as detestably obnoxious whilst claiming that she is a selfless and 'lost' person. To top it all off she is extremely judgemental towards others and provides no explanation for her 'remoteness'. The advantages she had in life are swept aside to focus on her 'sad' parents. Boo-hoo.The different timelines are confounding and all this background adds little emotion to the narrative. The chapters tended to end rather abruptly, often cutting through the flow of the story or interrupting the narrator's contemplation or thoughts. The thing I did enjoy was the way Istanbul was portrayed. The city seemed far more nuanced than anything else in this novel.Overall, this was trying too hard to be something abstract and introspective. It would have worked with a compelling narrator; regardless if this character had likeable or dislikable attributes...as long as they were believable and fleshed out their story would have been a cohesive and thoughtful cogitation, rather than this patently elusive mess. Read more reviews on my blog
    more
  • Kristina Libby
    January 1, 1970
    Carefully cultivated and simply explained — this sad, charming story is worth reading both to see Istanbul, and Paris but also to glimpse yourself.
  • Skip
    January 1, 1970
    I really cannot think of anything good to say about this one, except that it was not very long. It jumped all over the place, and we learned nothing about two magical cities (Paris and Istanbul) nor anything meaningful about Nunu's Turkish culture. The non-linear presentation made the book hard to follow as well. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.
    more
  • Lulufrances
    January 1, 1970
    I wouldn't be surprised to see this on many bookclublists or instagram accounts, as it's exactly the kind of fast read with a lot of underlying themes of grief and mother-daughter relationship and evocative settings (Istanbul/Paris), that would garner that sort of attention.(I mean I was intrigued by the setting alone, which is why it ended up high priority on my wishlist.)Somewhat detached but with some meaningful sentences popping up once in a while that pack a punch.All in all it didn't have I wouldn't be surprised to see this on many bookclublists or instagram accounts, as it's exactly the kind of fast read with a lot of underlying themes of grief and mother-daughter relationship and evocative settings (Istanbul/Paris), that would garner that sort of attention.(I mean I was intrigued by the setting alone, which is why it ended up high priority on my wishlist.)Somewhat detached but with some meaningful sentences popping up once in a while that pack a punch.All in all it didn't have a strong impact on me though and it is perhaps forgettable, were it not for the way Savas transports the vibe of the two cities - I kinda want to visit the Istanbul of Nunu's childhood.Nunu, the main character got on my nerves a bit and made me cringe with her constant wanting to be perceived as someone she isn't, always inventing and constructing herself and the anecdotes she tells M.Her quest for love and being accepted, perhaps, and definitely point of the story, but I still didn't enjoy watching her act that way.So, in conclusion - nice enough, fast summer read with tiny chapters, however I don't feel like I got my money's worth with this 17 Euro paperback.
    more
  • Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
    January 1, 1970
    I did nearly half of this on audio but despite the wonderful audio narration and the lovely prose, the novel’s meandering self-indulgence defeated me utterly.
  • James Beggarly
    January 1, 1970
    Great book. A young woman jumps through time as she remembers her childhood in Istanbul, college in England and months she spent in Paris, striking up a friendship with a famous author that she calls M. Short chapters that cumulatively add up to so much. A wonderful first book.
    more
  • Maria
    January 1, 1970
    A steadily-stacked build into something that knocked me down for a bit
  • Cherise Wolas
    January 1, 1970
    This elegiac debut novel is elegant and mosaic-like, unfolding in 72 short chapters mostly two or three pages long. It's about time and truth, place, identity, and dislocation. The voice captures two time periods: as-it's-happening young womanhood in Paris and the considered view from the future of wiser age returned then to Istanbul. Nunu, the first-person narrator, seeking to escape the fraught relationship with her mother, enrolls in a literature course in Paris, and leaves Istanbul. A course This elegiac debut novel is elegant and mosaic-like, unfolding in 72 short chapters mostly two or three pages long. It's about time and truth, place, identity, and dislocation. The voice captures two time periods: as-it's-happening young womanhood in Paris and the considered view from the future of wiser age returned then to Istanbul. Nunu, the first-person narrator, seeking to escape the fraught relationship with her mother, enrolls in a literature course in Paris, and leaves Istanbul. A course she never actually attends. She is disconnected in Paris and takes herself to a bookstore event specifically to hear the much older and famous writer named M. speak, whose Istanbul-set novels she's read and admired. As the novel opens, Nunu wants to preserve her memories from her time in Paris (now in the past), the long walks she took with M., with whom she had a real connection, that perhaps she hadn't felt since her father who died when she was young. M and Nunu write emails to each other, telling each other stories, and take those long walks through Paris. This is not a tale about an older male writer taking advantage of a young woman writer, but there is an imbalance nonetheless, that Nunu overcomes, deciding no longer to tell stories to M that she thinks he wants to hear--this though seems to be her view and perhaps not the truth. We learn about Nunu's father and his premature death, her distant mother seemingly saddled by depression, the game Nunu played as a child having to do with silence, the stories she told to her college roommate Molly about her family, as if her childhood had taken place in a movie, and to her former British boyfriend Luke, as they both delved into the psychology of family life. There is a fluidity of personal narrative in all of our lives, but Nunu seems to have taken it just a bit farther, each of these people in her life would surely have a different view of her. Set against the backdrop of a young woman trying to come into her own, the novel moves between Paris and Istanbul, as she looks back. The Istanbul Nunu left was one place; the Istanbul she returns to, still as a young woman, just as her friends are leaving, is filled with change and political menaces. The notion of personas is primary here, and when the book concludes, we don't yet know who Nunu really was, or who she's become.
    more
  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 rounded up to 5. In this book, there is no great catastrophe or calamity or climax. There is simply a quiet, understated story of a young woman telling of her association with M, and grieving the loss of her mother. There's a bit more to it than that - more introspection - but you'll discover that for yourself when you read it. For me, this was a very good read.
    more
  • Chrissy
    January 1, 1970
    Bittersweet and accurate telling of grief, especially when the narrator might not realize it.
  • Glenda Nelms
    January 1, 1970
    Aysegul Savas' debut novel is captivating and reflective. Sections on the loss of Nunu's mom was profoundly deep and emotional. Nunu's friendship with M, an older British writer is strong and positive. We don't know everything about Nunu's life. The book is about loss, friendship, and an acceptance of one's self.
    more
  • Evi
    January 1, 1970
    I find the plot summary of a book like this to be unimportant in comparison to the writing style and eloquence that comes across. To me, this book is written the way one lives. We catch a glance at everyday moments of Nunu's life, and the passages are slightly fragmented chronologically the way one may think back on memories. The main character is so believable and dynamic and so is the character's description of M. The novel offers only a glimpse into the life of Nunu, as if we are a friend of I find the plot summary of a book like this to be unimportant in comparison to the writing style and eloquence that comes across. To me, this book is written the way one lives. We catch a glance at everyday moments of Nunu's life, and the passages are slightly fragmented chronologically the way one may think back on memories. The main character is so believable and dynamic and so is the character's description of M. The novel offers only a glimpse into the life of Nunu, as if we are a friend of hers. Like she does with Molly and M., Nunu presents limited knowledge about her life to us. As a reader we draw our own conclusions about Nunu and her history. There was something magical about the writing that I have never experienced before.
    more
  • Hanča
    January 1, 1970
    What a beautiful short novel. The words are crafted together so perfectly I was just in awe.
  • Leticia Vila-Sanjuán
    January 1, 1970
    3.8beautifully written, even though i didn’t fall for M’s friendship
  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    A story of light and dark of telling and withholding of memory and an elusive truth.This novel is ephemeral and lighter than air with an underlying sadness. Nuri growing up in Istanbul with parents who are more apparitions than real live people moves at one time or another to London and Paris. Nuri has no clear understanding of who she is and looks to others to define her. The story in this work is almost secondary. It feels almost like a therapy session where Nuri goes through her memories and A story of light and dark of telling and withholding of memory and an elusive truth.This novel is ephemeral and lighter than air with an underlying sadness. Nuri growing up in Istanbul with parents who are more apparitions than real live people moves at one time or another to London and Paris. Nuri has no clear understanding of who she is and looks to others to define her. The story in this work is almost secondary. It feels almost like a therapy session where Nuri goes through her memories and finds different meanings and layers and interpretations of her past.There is little action or plot and yet I found the work engaging and very personal. I would look forward to reading another book by this author.
    more
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this novel. I don’t recommend it for any reader who wants action and plot. This is more an introspective look at the personas we project into the world and now our memories are formed and manipulated and told to create these personas. I love reflections of cities and the narrator creates personas of London, Paris, and Istanbul. Like the way she invents herself, she creates versions of these cities with some truths, some omissions, and some embellishments. She retreats further from people I loved this novel. I don’t recommend it for any reader who wants action and plot. This is more an introspective look at the personas we project into the world and now our memories are formed and manipulated and told to create these personas. I love reflections of cities and the narrator creates personas of London, Paris, and Istanbul. Like the way she invents herself, she creates versions of these cities with some truths, some omissions, and some embellishments. She retreats further from people she cares about as she realizes that she is giving away too much of herself and her home city. By protecting herself and her beloved but changing Istanbul, she yearns for what is not and mourns for what is lost. This is beautiful for reflection.
    more
  • Regina Valentine
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book and about halfway through, I decided I didn't. Then as I kept reading, I found parts that I actually enjoyed. This book seems like something I would write as my first novel. It showed me that chapters can be short and don't have to be overwhelming. As far as the story, it was a little lackluster up until the ending chapters. I don't understand the main character. She is suffering from some type of loneliness or melancholy that I can't quite put my f I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book and about halfway through, I decided I didn't. Then as I kept reading, I found parts that I actually enjoyed. This book seems like something I would write as my first novel. It showed me that chapters can be short and don't have to be overwhelming. As far as the story, it was a little lackluster up until the ending chapters. I don't understand the main character. She is suffering from some type of loneliness or melancholy that I can't quite put my finger on but I wish had been explored more in-depth. I loved the descriptions of Paris, I place that I have often imagined, and you can tell that Turkey is a country near and dear to the author's heart. If I could give the book 3.5 stars, I would.
    more
  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    This slim novel with short chapters is the story of Nunu, a young woman who has moved between Paris and Istanbul. Now in Istanbul, she recounts how she told her tales to M, a British writer she admires but her mother hated, as they walked around Paris. Is Nunu an unreliable narrator? To M perhaps but not to the reader because she acknowledges how she may have shapeshifted some things in the recounting. Thanks to edelweiss for the ARC. An interesting debut for fans of literary fiction.
    more
  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars."Stories have their own logic. For one thing, a story can only be told once it has an ending. For another, it builds, and then unravels. Each element of a story is essential; its time will come and it will ultimately mean something. In this way, stories are accountable, because they can look you in the eye."This strange, little novel was a quick read and yet had some thoughtful moments and gems. If you like plot-driven stories, you will be disappointed as this is more of a moment in ti 3.5 stars."Stories have their own logic. For one thing, a story can only be told once it has an ending. For another, it builds, and then unravels. Each element of a story is essential; its time will come and it will ultimately mean something. In this way, stories are accountable, because they can look you in the eye."This strange, little novel was a quick read and yet had some thoughtful moments and gems. If you like plot-driven stories, you will be disappointed as this is more of a moment in time and it goes back and forth in time and in between Paris and Istanbul but nothing much happens. It's not a character study either. You don't get to know the characters (even the main character) as much and deeply as I like to (it is such a short novel after all.) It's just a slice, a moment. But there are still many moments of beauty in the book and solid writing that makes you stop and think. Since I grew up in Istanbul, there were a lot of moments of reminiscence for me as well. I look forward to more of her novels, hopefully longer and meatier ones next time.
    more
  • Lori Eshleman
    January 1, 1970
    This short novel reflects on cities, relationships, and writing, through a series of walks. The walks take place in two cities: Paris, where a young Turkish woman named Nunu walks and talks with an older man, M., a British writer whose books are set in Turkey; and Istanbul, where Nunu grew up taking walks with her mother, especially on Sundays, when they habitually went to lunch. Like her mother, it seems, Nunu “gets antsy if she stays in one place” (84). Other walks take place in more private s This short novel reflects on cities, relationships, and writing, through a series of walks. The walks take place in two cities: Paris, where a young Turkish woman named Nunu walks and talks with an older man, M., a British writer whose books are set in Turkey; and Istanbul, where Nunu grew up taking walks with her mother, especially on Sundays, when they habitually went to lunch. Like her mother, it seems, Nunu “gets antsy if she stays in one place” (84). Other walks take place in more private spaces: the narrator’s father walks the length of their train-like apartment in Istanbul, to the balcony on the other side of the marital bedroom, reciting the letters of his daughter’s full name, NURUNISA; and she herself walks telepathically in the “white city” on the ceiling of her childhood bedroom--a place she escapes to “when Istanbul was heavy and dark, pressing in against the walls of our apartment” (203). The narrator makes clear that the stories she narrates may be unreliable and incomplete: “But stories are reckless things, blind to everything but their own shape. When you tell a story, you set out to leave so much behind” (2).Besides recounting walks, the novel records lists and inventories: of fish and flowers, Turkish dishes, restaurants in Paris and Istanbul, and favorite items. The descriptions of walks, the lists, the fragmented memories of relatives and friends may appear as “a sign of sorrow, a wish to care for and preserve things on the brink of disappearance” (125). --Or perhaps they mark no more than a “residue of absence”(151). Much of what takes place in this novel is mundane, yet oddly profound. It recounts the dislocations that occur as people’s worlds slide past each other like tectonic plates. Istanbul, too, seems fractured from its ancient past. But shared stories, like those between Nunu and the writer, momentarily ease such dislocations. “We passed our stories back and forth until they merged…At that time, brief though it was, we shared a single imagination” (207). In reading and reflecting on this book, I found myself privileged to share in this single imagination.
    more
  • Shreya Vikram
    January 1, 1970
    I always find it hardest to review books that I've fallen in love with. There seems to be absolutely nothing to criticise, and far too much to praise. No review could do this book justice.Filled with wistful, sparse prose and profound observations; Walking on the Ceiling is one of those stories that leave you with the deepest ache for something you cannot name. It is honest, startling so- to the point where there seems to be no distinction between the narrator of this story and the author of the I always find it hardest to review books that I've fallen in love with. There seems to be absolutely nothing to criticise, and far too much to praise. No review could do this book justice.Filled with wistful, sparse prose and profound observations; Walking on the Ceiling is one of those stories that leave you with the deepest ache for something you cannot name. It is honest, startling so- to the point where there seems to be no distinction between the narrator of this story and the author of the book. I could not believe it was fictional. It hurt too much to be imagined. If she saw or heard me around the house, she would come and talk to me, or ask if I was hungry. She asked kindly, like an apology. The relationship between the Nunu and her mother is both achingly beautiful and deeply unsettling in its truth. Nunu's correspondence, M., is one of the most real characters I have had the pleasure of meeting, despite the intentional obscurity of his character. The Istanbul culture pulls at your heart without becoming too melodramatic. Savas is intentionally sparse, in both her story and her writing. While some may find this to be a nuisance, I thought it was a beautiful gesture of trust. Savas trusts her readers enough to know that they are capable of drawing their own conclusions, and I loved her for it. Instead of worrying over her audience, she makes every sentence sing. She treats her words so delicately, you feel as though they will shatter if you speak them aloud. A strange, slim novel, Walking on the Ceiling is a bittersweet read, and one that will not leave me anytime soon. Blog | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter
    more
  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    This is my book for Popsugar prompt 26 - a book published in 2019I experienced this as an audiobook and loved both the story and Mozhan Marnò's narrationThis book tells the stories of Nunu, a Turkish woman in Paris after her mother's death, and her relationship with the author M. It also tells the story of Nunu's relationship with her mother and with Istanbul.It is also about memory and relationships, stories and expectations. Nunu shared short pieces from her lives - her life in Istanbul with h This is my book for Popsugar prompt 26 - a book published in 2019I experienced this as an audiobook and loved both the story and Mozhan Marnò's narrationThis book tells the stories of Nunu, a Turkish woman in Paris after her mother's death, and her relationship with the author M. It also tells the story of Nunu's relationship with her mother and with Istanbul.It is also about memory and relationships, stories and expectations. Nunu shared short pieces from her lives - her life in Istanbul with her ailing mother, her life as a child in a vibrant city she loved, her life as a young student entranced by and with M.There is no real narrative, no beginning, middle and end in a traditional sense. But instead there is a beautiful meander through two different cities and two different relationships. Both cities are described with such love that the human relationships have some real competition. Nunu's grief at the loss of her mother and the odd situation with M thread through this story too - i often felt a deep loneliness coming from her tinged with regret at things not done or said.A very lovely book with hidden depths and if done as an audiobook, covered in the silky smoothness of Marnò's beautiful voice.Considering this is a debut novel I am even more impressed by it and hope Savas keeps creating.
    more
  • Todd Hogan
    January 1, 1970
    Have you ever wanted to spend time walking with your favorite author? That's the premise of this lovely little book. A young Turkish woman visiting Paris to escape her mother and her changing Istanbul meets an elderly British writer who sometimes writes about Istanbul. He appreciates the anecdotes the young woman, named Nununisa, tells. In return, he helps her notice the world around her and recall memories from her childhood. The author, identified only as M., teaches writing to students and wo Have you ever wanted to spend time walking with your favorite author? That's the premise of this lovely little book. A young Turkish woman visiting Paris to escape her mother and her changing Istanbul meets an elderly British writer who sometimes writes about Istanbul. He appreciates the anecdotes the young woman, named Nununisa, tells. In return, he helps her notice the world around her and recall memories from her childhood. The author, identified only as M., teaches writing to students and worries whether he has been able to help them understand what writing is about. However, the reader slowly understands that he is also teaching his "guide" how to appreciate and tell a story.The novel is short, 207 pages, 72 chapters. I expected to be able to fly through the book but I soon found I had to slow down to savor the language of the book and the ideas being presented. I found that the book stimulated my own memories and prompted numerous ideas for possible stories. It's not often that a book does that so beautifully. It's not told in a linear fashion, but neither is our memory arranged in regimented order. The author jumps around from scene to scene and time to time and place to place, but I never felt lost, because she was exploring the landscape of memory and idea. I found it to be a rewarding read and highly recommend it.
    more
  • Shawn
    January 1, 1970
    “I don’t know what it was, but I was testing something. The order of the world; it’s tipping point.”“Luke would say that people live their whole lives telling stories, and by story he meant something like delusion. Everyone, he said, had a story of themselves. They told it again and again, at every chance they got.” “I still remembered what it was like to live with a creative mind, I said, however it hovered above us.”“There is a fear of time passing. And everywhere the signs of age are eradicat “I don’t know what it was, but I was testing something. The order of the world; it’s tipping point.”“Luke would say that people live their whole lives telling stories, and by story he meant something like delusion. Everyone, he said, had a story of themselves. They told it again and again, at every chance they got.” “I still remembered what it was like to live with a creative mind, I said, however it hovered above us.”“There is a fear of time passing. And everywhere the signs of age are eradicated.” “Of course, it’s possible that time has added meaning to memory.” “In the company of women, tragedy was soothed, woven into life and routine. It was brought down to earth from its cloud of confusion.” “...it is easy to forget the texture of a relationship...” “That afternoon, one of his students had turned in a story about his family written with such bitterness that it had been uncomfortable to discuss in class.I asked him why this was. ‘At the heart of it, there is shame,’ M said. ‘But it’s hidden under so much anger. How do you teach them to tell the story as it is, when they are blind to the very feeling with which they are telling the story?’”“I had an urge to be reckless. To cause damage in one sweep.”
    more
  • Pauline Lemasson
    January 1, 1970
    "Stories have their own logic. For one thing, a story can only be told once it has an ending. For another, it builds, and then unravels. Each element of a story is essential; its time will come and it will ultimately mean something. In this way, stories are accountable, because they can look you in the eye."I really fell for the quiet charm of this book, how the narrator, Nunu, weaves through the telling of many stories over time. One of these stories is a peculiar friendship she has with an old "Stories have their own logic. For one thing, a story can only be told once it has an ending. For another, it builds, and then unravels. Each element of a story is essential; its time will come and it will ultimately mean something. In this way, stories are accountable, because they can look you in the eye."I really fell for the quiet charm of this book, how the narrator, Nunu, weaves through the telling of many stories over time. One of these stories is a peculiar friendship she has with an older British writer, M., and although it's never clear whether she's in love with him, they have a strong connection. Many of their interactions take place over long walks through Paris. In one keenly observed scene, M. gets up to leave and gives Nunu to hold onto an invisible thread that he unravels as he walks away, holding on to another end. And then he suddenly just stops writing her. There is much to discover and think about in this book regarding friendship, memories, loss, and storytelling.
    more
Write a review