Why Tarkan Bagci’s novel “The Invention of the Can Opener” is not primarily about who invented the can opener
Written by Charlotte Kwik
“Annette has a secret,” a resident of the elderly home whispers to young Timur. Timur is a local journalist in a small town who is not satisfied with his life or his career. Articles about the local Chicken Breeder’s Association or other supposed trivia carried him while he dreamed of a great career. Benjamin must be one of the rungs on the ladder of success, which Volo must get. Benjamin shouts the premise of this into the ear of the hardworking protagonist at the disco: “Just bring the hammer story, no matter what! The main issue, it’s fat.” As Timur marshals his allegedly successful and conspicuous life on Instagram – #Journalism #PassionNotWork – he thinks about where the “hammer story” should come from in the uninspiring work environment.
The editorial desk consisted of two compact tables and three old computers. The saddest editing room in the world. The ceilings were hanging like a noose, and everything seemed to be somehow disjointed […]. The entire room was a slack that completely contradicted its true purpose.
After several unsuccessful attempts to get something on paper, Timur recalls Annette who is supposed to have a secret. Accompanied by doubts about the truth of the old lady’s story, Timur plunges into an adventure that leads to property damage, police operations, bribery and emergency medical services. We quickly learn that it’s not about how Annette invented the can opener, but that she actually has a secret that captivates the reader much more than the invention of the can opener. The protagonist also learns in the course of the story that the story is more than we can read in black and white.
Like the protagonist of his first novel, Tarkan Bagci works as a journalist. He’s been successfully writing for TV formats like this for a long time ZDF (Previously: New) Royal magazineShe has her own comedy podcast.I felt the facts) and was nominated for the German Comedy Award 2018. Now he dares to join The invention of the can opener (2021) Finally in the world of novels. Lucky for us readers. With much wit, he weaves a story of the daily pessimism of his protagonist Timur, who surely wants to get an apprenticeship in a big newspaper, and of means to an end, Annette, who, as he will discover, tells a worthy story, belongs to becoming.
The novel, which is about 250 pages long, is written in a very entertaining casual style. The first-person narrator informs from the young protagonist’s point of view and in a modern, modern style, creating a tone that fits the context of Instagram like # belongings can be described. The story accompanies both the frankly boring everyday life of the unmotivated journalist Timur, who is always in search of something meaningful. At the same time, he gives a glimpse into Timur’s Instagram account, through which he follows the supposedly dazzling lives of his school friends, who are now on an adventurous journey into the big wide world. The plot was interrupted by clips in which Annette Timur talks about her youth. The more the plot develops chronologically, the more the reader is drawn to the old lady’s past. However, the novel is not convincing through the plot alone, which carries small surprises, but without feelings. Instead, he lives from authentic characters and their relationships that are shaped through frank dialogues. Both these dialogues and Bagsey’s narrative style have a highly figurative writing style full of metaphors and comparisons, making the reader smile frequently.
Flo took his pin and we both threw brown alcohol around our necks. It tastes disgusting. As if a bunch of herbs had been put into purgatory and still rotted.
Humor alternates between nuances and sarcastic to nuances. But Bagci does not only succeed in this: even the most serious passages, such as Annette’s breakdown or reconciliation with the relationship between Timur and his father, are presented as such and are not disguised with inappropriate jokes. Bagshi keeps it serious for as long as necessary – but usually not anymore. Returning to the carefree nature of the novel he turns every time again light and natural, so that neither seriousness nor lightness seems to be on the table.
Sometimes associated with the novel by Jonas Jonasson The old man who jumped out of the window and disappeared (2013) wake up; But where the exaggerated and absurd Jonasson lives, Bagsey stresses the importance of being humble.
Flo and Ozlim envy me for something I didn’t have. I only pretended to have it because I thought I did […]. How long had I envied Flo and Ozlim for their lives, and now it turns out that it was all in vain as if I had been training for months in a wonderful sport that I now learned doesn’t even exist.
By developing Timur, Bagci shows that not everything is always as exciting or pleasant as we present or realize it. Thus, the association with journalism, which so powerfully shapes the novel, is subtly done again at the end. The plot of the novel can be treated in the absurdly intrusive fashion of the popular press in an exaggerated title, such as the title of this review, which Bagsey’s novel does not need.
The invention of the can opener It is a clear recommendation for anyone who wants to listen to Bagci and his characters. The speed can opener itself is just an afterthought and the characters and their stories are tested. Entertaining and humorous conversation does not pretend to be more and does everything right.
Contribution from the Contemporary Cultures Editing Team at the University of Duisburg-Essen