Mrs Valley – ‘the mistress of dirty jokes’; Mr Ellis, the gardener; Gareth, the tobacconist; and Vera his daughter with the shapely legs, shelter from the V1 raids on London. The doodle-bugs, flying bombs, V1s or what have you represent the threat of instant death but also the subject of a hundred jokes, stories and curses. And the surrealist poet looks on and shares their danger, their sudden and hilarious swings of mood.
Feyyaz Kayacan Fergar worked as Head of the BBC’s Turkish Section. He died in 1993 but still has a wide following as a poet and translator. This translation is being financed by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and promoted by some of Feyyaz’s admirers. There will be advertisements in the TLS and London Review of Books, together with launches in London and Istanbul.
Cover illustration is from Henry Moore’s second Shelter Notebook, in which he sketched people sleeping in the Underground during the London Blitz. Turkish critic Bedri Rahman had written “I got hold of some pictures of Henry Moore (the Shelter Sketchbooks) and weighed them against these stories (Mrs Valley’s War) and the stories weighed heavier!”.