Deer Curses, Murathan Mungan
Metis Fiction
13 x 19.5 cm, 180 pp
ISBN No. 975-342-015-3

1st Print: October 1992
4th Print: May 2007
Murathan Mungan
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About the Author
One of the most prominent and prolific contemporary writers of Turkey, Murathan Mungan has published poetry, short stories, plays, novels, screenplays, radio plays, essays, film and theater criticism, and political columns. He has over fifteen poetry books, among them Osmanlıya Dair Hikâyat (Stories on the Ottomans, 1981), Metal (1994) and Yaz Geçer (Summer Too Passes, 1992) which has attained the status of a cult book due to its continuing popularity. A selection of his poems were translated and published in Kurdish as Li Rojhilatê Dilê Min (In the East of my Heart, 1996). His works have also been translated into Bosnian, Bulgarian, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Persian and Swedish. Most recently a selection of his short stories were published in German under the title Palast Des Ostens (2006) and his semi-autobiographical narrative Paranın Cinleri (Money Djinns, 1997) in Greek this year. An Italian translation of the same work is forthcoming. Also his 2004 novella Çador (Chador) will be published in French and Italian. Mungan’s trilogy of plays, “The Mesopotamian Trilogy” has enjoyed successful theater runs across the country and the last play of the trilogy, Geyikler Lanetler (Deer Curses, 1992) is on the 2007 program of the Arca Azzura Theater in Italy. His latest publications in Turkish are Kâğıt Taş Kumaş (Paper Stone Fabric, 2007) a play in three parts; Büyümenin Türkçe Tarihi (The History of Growing Up in Turkish, ed., 2007), a volume of short stories from the history of modern Turkish literature, edited in collaboration with the foremost literary critics in the country; and most recently, Yedi Kapılı Kırk Oda (Forty Rooms with Seven Doors, 2007), a book of short stories.
Other Books from Metis
Yaz Geçer (Summer Too Passes), 1992, poetry
Çador (Chador), 2004, novella
Paranın Cinleri (Money Djinns), 1997, narrative
Yüksek Topuklar (High Heels), 2002, novel
Kadından Kentler (Cities of Women), 2008, Short Stories

Click here for full Mungan list
Murathan Mungan
Deer Curses
Mesopotamian Trilogy III

Geyikler Lanetler
Mezopotamya Üçlemesi III

Rights sold / published by:
Greece: Exandas

"For me, mythology is at the same time ideology. I try to narrate, to read at different levels the relation between figures and their multi-layered articulation. I grew up in Mardin, a city as beautiful as a tale. I lent my ear and collected tales. To a large extent my writing reflects fundamental conflicts of values. Great passion, great daring and great upheavals – these are what I am interested in."
– Murathan Mungan

Theater has a special place in Murathan Mungan’s formation as a writer. Having received his undergraduate and MA degrees in drama, Mungan worked as a dramaturge for nine years at Ankara State Theaters and Istanbul City Theaters. His first book was a play that won him critical acclaim and initiated the Mesopotamian Trilogy, a poetic and electrifying series of plays that draw on the Middle Eastern history of dilemmas; between different races and cultures, between reality and dreams, between men and magic. Deer Curses is the final play in this trilogy and one of the most beautiful books Mungan has published.
       Deer Curses was performed at Ankara State Theaters in 1994 and in 1999, as well as the International Theater Festival in Istanbul in 1994. The play was invited to be performed at the "Theater der Welt", an international theater festival in Schaubühne. It was also performed at the State Theater of Thessalonica in 2003.
Ayşegül Yüksel, Cumhuriyet, 27 May 1999
"… A fine piece of writing adorned with the most beautiful, supple and masterful expressions in Turkish… Mungan’s text is first and foremost a linguistic masterpiece. A text which you can read over and over again, discovering new flavors each time. Its content, its ‘word’ and the reverberations of its ‘word’ will afford many an epiphany. …A text with a vast realm of associations."
Erendiz Atasü, Varlık, February 2001
"The language that Mungan uses in his plays is at once local and dispersed historically and geographically. The hum of technology binds the ancient story to our current day. Tragedies narrate reality, but neither Greek tragedies nor contemporary ones are realistic. It is because they may not be realistic that they can grasp that which is real for all times and places. Mungan’s plays approach the tragic. They begin by expressing the ruthlessness of local customs, flow slowly and gradually, just as life and history in the east, and reach humankind’s fundamental states of affect."
Zehra İpşiroğlu, Milliyet Sanat, June 1994
"As much as it beckons us to surrender to its enchanting power, Deer Curses also allows its readers to generate their own imagery, for we can find in this play instances of our own unconscious instincts of violence, fear and the like. Hence we dive into the depths of the play as if we’re dreaming. But this plunge does not detach us from our own future or our own lives. Because the world of violence that is depicted is part of our contemporary experience."
HAZER BEY: However that may be, leave all this behind now. Cast aside the ashes of the past. Think no more on it. What is done is done. It was required by the custom of first blood. We took it; it is over.
KUREYSHA: (Whispering) It will take us, too.
HAZER BEY: There is no other way to drain the earth of its venom.
KUREYSHA: (Preoccupied) Where is it now?
HAZER BEY: Where is what?
KUREYSHA: The first blood.
HAZER BEY: In the cupboard. Inside the bottle. I put it away so that no one would misuse it. You know it is venom; it is sacred, in trust.
KUREYSHA: Would it kill, if one drank it?
HAZER BEY: Surely it would. It is the earth's venom, poison nectar of death.
KUREYSHA: Is this truth or belief?
HAZER BEY: Is belief not truth, Kureysha? The blood of the sacrifice is poured into a bottle. It is stored away. If a tribe or a nation decides to leave its settlement and migrate, first the bottle containing the first blood is buried in the ground. Later, in the new land, the tribe takes another sacrifice, and that first blood too is poured into a bottle and kept as long as the tribe abides there. Then, with the next migration, it too is buried in the ground. The earth's venom is returned to the earth. It is returned so that its curse will not follow the trail of the tribe.
So it goes on.
How many times have I explained this to you. How many times have you heard me explain it.
KUREYSHA: What strange customs you have.
HAZER BEY: True, you are not of our tribe; our customs would seem strange to you. But have you no strange customs of your own? Everyone's custom is foreign to others.
KUREYSHA: If the deer are hunted to extinction...
KUREYSHA: Then what will become of your custom?
HAZER BEY: I do not understand.
KUREYSHA: You would not understand, of course. Because you live inside your custom.
You know neither the place nor the time a custom will be exhausted.
The tradition of sacrifice depends on the life of the sacrifice.
The executioner lives only as long as his sacrifice, no longer.
HAZER BEY: I do not understand you at all, Kureysha. What is happening to you? The obscure language of the sages pours forth from your lips, I feel a stranger to you.
KUREYSHA: When will you bury the bottle?
HAZER BEY: We are settled here now. We are not leaving.
KUREYSHA: Do you mean you will not return the earth's venom to the earth? Will the vapors of the curse wander at will?
HAZER BEY: Do not confuse my mind, I don't know.
KUREYSHA: You don't know because this custom was the custom of the age of migration. In the age of settlement, you are left with the bottle in your hand!
HAZER BEY: Should I have defied our customs?
KUREYSHA: You, who love to violate custom.
HAZER BEY: Why do you say that?
KUREYSHA: It is so, you defied your father. You married me; married a girl not of your tribe. You migrated from place to place, then you began saying you would settle. And you decided to settle.
HAZER BEY: There are answers for everything you say:
I fell in love with you, that is why I married you.
Because I could not make my heart listen, I made my tribe listen.
That is the first point.
As for the second: the time had finally come to settle. I realized that the age had changed, little by little.
Because I could not make the age listen, I made my clan listen.
That is the second point.
You know I have always loved power. I made power listen.
And that is the third point.
KUREYSHA: Why could we not have settled elsewhere?
HAZER BEY: This place seemed right, Kureysha. Do you not see that it has fertile soil, water, and forest?
KUREYSHA: But this place does not belong to us.
HAZER BEY: No place belongs to anyone, not in that sense. Think, remember when we migrated as nomads. The high pastures in summer, the low valleys in winter, the whole of nature was ours then. Yet now the time to settle has come. The age demands it. And I have understood the age!
KUREYSHA: These cries, these screams will soon make me mad. I will lose my reason, my sense of direction.
HAZER BEY: You will not. Nothing will touch you. I will have a palace built here. A great, stately palace. So great it will have neither likeness nor peer. I will have it built so that it will be without likeness or peer.
Neither the head of a deer nor the cry of a deer will reach our windows.
KUREYSHA: Let us move away from here, Hazer. Whatever we do, let us migrate. Consider, this is a place frequented by deer, their home and shelter in the snows, the winters, the rains and storms. A deer's retreat on the edge of the forest. When we came here, we deprived them of their homeland, and we sacrificed a pregnant deer. They will not leave us unpunished for this. Our way to settlement has been forged by a curse. It will lead nowhere but to blind ends, Hazer Bey. As long as we stay, as long as we live here, do you think I can forget the stag who came to weep over his mate, his unborn kid? Those cries, those howls, will they ever leave my ears?
HAZER BEY: I will have such a palace built here... It will loom above all, gaze at everything from afar. Neither the breath of the forest will touch it, nor the deer’s laments...
KUREYSHA: Bury that bottle, Hazer Bey. Bury it in the earth. Bury it and let us move away from here before the judgment of the first blood overtakes us.
HAZER BEY: All who see it will say this palace must have been captured from a fairy-tale, it cannot be real. And they will say, once upon a time, Hazer Bey had this palace built for his wife, Kureysha.

Translated by Aron Aji & Victoria Holbrook.
Longer sample manuscript available in English 

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