The Alphabet of Silence

Original title: L’Alphabet du silence

Publication Date:

April 2023



Original language and publisher

French | L’Iconoclaste

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia

Territories Sold

Greece (Minoas)


Literary Fiction


  • Prix Gisèle Halimi (longlisted)

The Alphabet of Silence

Original title: L’Alphabet du silence


The novel of the contemporary Turkish tragedy

Göktay is a history professor at the prestigious Bosphorus University, as well as a lifelong defender of minorities, the oppressed, and the forgotten. One morning in January 2016, he is arrested at his home in Istanbul and imprisoned, for allegedly “supporting terrorism”. His offence: signing the “academics for peace” petition calling for an end to the Turkish army’s military operations in the Southeast, a predominantly Kurdish region. Suddenly, his life – and that of his family – is changed.

A victim of President Erdoğan’s authoritarian drift, he is plunged into Absurdity to the point of losing hope. His wife, Ayla, has no choice but to fight, at least for the sake of their daughter Deniz, who keeps asking for her father. At first reluctant to engage herself politically, this French teacher soon discovers the “solidarity of opponents” and ends up espousing their cause, until she takes up the torch for her husband and finally discovers his secret.

A novel inhabited by History

In this debut novel, Delphine Minoui recounts President Erdoğan’s authoritarian drift. As she brings us deep into the meanders of Turkish civil society, we progressively measure how politics embed themselves into the deepest parts of individuals, only to better destroy them – or better reveal them. An engaged book about resilience, the power of words (how they can erase the past or bring it to the surface), and the importance of protecting critical thinking and historical transmission within a people that is as tormented as it is creative.