Papadopulos Apartment
Altar Kaplan
390 page, novel, 2015

A colorful and playful text with a strong criticism of the petty bourgeois conformist intellectual, Papadopulos Apartment will introduce its readers to a great cast of characters that won’t be easily forgotten. The novel includes informative tangents that span from Biblical tales to detailed movie analyses. Its intellectual flair with universal references will appeal to international readers and its use of the cultural heritage in Galata will introduce those readers to a section of Turkey’s history which was mainly wiped out.

The novel follows our narrator as he goes about his daily life and gives us a panaromic view of the residents in his apartment: Papadopulos Apartment. The apartment is an old one in the Galata district with a rich history. It has witnessed Istanbul’s turbulent history. Its historical testimony is presented through a series of chronological entries. These entries had been noted by the apartment’s old superintendents, a position our narrator now occupies. He is married with a kid however his relationship is falling apart and he spends much of his time outside; visiting neighbors, going to the meetings of the Color Red Appreciation Society of which he is a member of.

The other residents include; Ferdi M, an albino poet who regularly puts his poems on the bulletin board without being asked to; Mehmet, an old friend of the narrator who has an history of unsuccesful business endeavours; Gürkan, a bureaucrat who has an obsession with signed copies of books and whom our narrator finds tedious; Bilek, a banker with a French wife, Maria; Hadji Islam, a devout Muslim; an eccentric woman named Miss Merlin; an old judge named Hakan Tunç; an intellectual named Orhan Cem and Polemus, a cold man about whom not a much is known. And one flat remains empty. It is rumored that an historical artifact was discovered in there and the owner refused to rent it afterwards.

One of the apartment’s oldest residents Raif Manav, a second-hand bookseller, was found dead in his apartment where he lived alone. After his death another resident’s, Laz İbrahim’s, apartment gets robbed. These two incidents become the main topic of discussion between neighbors. The common belief is that Raif Manav’s death which has not yet been cleared of suspicion and the robbery are two related incidents.

Our narrator finds a long letter in front of Raif Manav’s flat. It is a love letter reminiscing a passionate love affair. It was written by Polemus’ recently deceased wife, Mrs. Zazin. Coming to the realization that Mrs. Zazin and Raif Manav were once in love, he understands the reason why Polemus is a guarded man. Not knowing what to do with the letter, he decides the best thing to do would be to hand it to the police investigating Raif’s death. Not too long after this, he meets a beautiful woman named Hale, under the Galata tower, and they have an intellectually stimulating conversation. However after she leaves there is no way for our narrator to contact her again, and he goes back to his own family.   

Hakan Tunç, Hadji Islam, Orhan Cem and the narrator discuss the fate of the old entries they find in the apartment. After a discussion we don’t get to hear, they decide to burn the notebooks.

Our narrator’s time in Papadopulos Apartment comes to an end when he gets swindled out of his flat due to a greedy real estate agent. But his real tragedy is when he loses his son and wife. We learn that they got killed in a car accident by a car which ran a red light. We also learn little pieces of information about the other residents most of whom had unfortunate endings themselves. Laz İbrahim, who gets killed by a second robber and Ferdi M. who commits suicide being the two main examples.