‘Blue jewellery’ is private property. Not to be seen. Not to be talked about. It is worn like a bracelet around the wrists, on ribs, legs, arms. Blue jewellery is another name for the marks left on women’s bodies, inflicted by the men around them.
This novel tells the story of Filiz and Yunus. When Filiz meets Yunus, he is young and beautiful, and Filiz is proud that he wants her. Against her father’s wishes, they marry when she is thirteen. Yunus is her entire universe, all encompassing, all powerful. Soon after the wedding, Filiz’s dream of living in the West with her husband, of escaping their small village in Anatolia for freedom and autonomy, comes crashing down around her. Yunus, only a few years older than his bride, turns their marriage into a prison of dependency and violence. Trapped in her mother-in-law’s house, Filiz is subjected to physical and mental abuse, forced to veil herself and treated as a house slave. When she becomes pregnant, Filiz seems to have reached her breaking point. But she endures. When Yunus moves his young family first to Istanbul and then to Austria, the life he had once promised her seems to be within reach. But there is no escaping the spiral of violence and love, which, to Filiz, have become inseparable.
Katharina Winkler’s powerful story of a marriage dominated by violence gives voice to a tenacious young woman whose will to survive is never broken.
‘Based on sixty hours of interviews, Blue Jewellery combines reportage with fiction to produce a first-person narrative that will stay with readers long after they have finished the book.’—New Books in German
‘A debut in a class of its own [. . .]. The narrative rhythm develops a fascinating pull that one cannot escape. Again and again, the author enhances the power of her imagery into poignant maxims with downright lyrical character. She works virtuously with reduction and consolidation, with hard cuts and the art of effective omission.’—Christian Schacherreiter, OON
‘Due to many unvarnished scenes of violence, reading Blue Jewellery by Katharina Winkler has been a rather shattering experience, but one that held my attention and made me finish the slim volume in only one go. I appreciated very much that the Austrian author refrained from reducing the tragic and unfortunately true story of Filiz to its back-of-beyond Muslim-Kurdish dimension as would have corresponded with the zeitgeist. In fact, she gave religion only marginal attention exploring instead roots and mechanisms of (predominantly) male violence against women and children on a more universal level although by way of example of one woman. Dealing with domestic violence, the novel plays in the same league as Roddy Doyle’s (fictitious) The Woman Who Walked into Doors and allows a look behind the victims’ carefully locked doors and into their buttoned-up souls. Therefore it’s an important read that I gladly recommend.’—Edith’s Miscellany
‘Winkler’s language is sparse, simple and rough, like beatings with a log of wood, like the worldview of that young woman. Every word hits home [. . .]. There’s a poetry of wordlessness in [Winkler’s] densification. The poetry of impuissance. The abyss finds room in what is left unsaid.’—Sabine Vogel, Frankfurter Rundschau
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