A vital and eloquent portrait of modern Turkey drawn from the lives of its ordinary citizens

Written in prison, the stories in Dawn offer an unfamiliar glimpse of Turkey and the Middle East. They capture the experiences of the people behind the headlines, the voices that so often go unheard.

The young cleaning woman whose bus to work gets caught in a violent protest; the little girl fleeing across the Mediterranean from Syria with her mother; the illegal underage workers building jails; the victim of an ‘honour killing’. Tragedy collides vividly with sharp humour and political satire as inmates have their letters vetted by committee and a bus driver tricks a young idealist.

The first fiction from the imprisoned progressive politician, former leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party and presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas, this collection is essential reading. With warmth, wit and brutal insight, he illuminates everyday existence in Turkey and brings his characters to startling life.


  • [A] critical voice… Demirtas writes poignantly about the lives of ordinary people and his stories are memorable for the unvarnished simplicity of his prose… The fact that…[Demirtas] continue[s] to write, despite their confinement, is some measure of their courage and the indomitability of the human spirit
    Lucy Popescu, Times Literary Supplement

About the author

Selahattin Demirtas

Imprisoned in a maximum-security jail since November 2016, Selahattin Demirtas continues to advocate for the Turkish people as both an author and a politician. He wrote and published Seher (Dawn) in 2017 and ran for president in 2018, both from behind bars.

Born in 1973, Demirtas has been a member of the parliament of Turkey since 2007. From 2014 to 2018 he was the co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a left-wing pro-Kurdish party with an emphasis on progressive values, feminism and LGBTQ rights. He passionately believes in the liberal, democratic and egalitarian future of Turkey.

Demirtas faces a 183-year prison sentence. Dawn is his first book.
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