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The Applicant

A novel by

'An important and radical new literary voice' Elif Batuman

It's 2017 and Leyla, a leftwing Turkish twenty-something living in Berlin, is scrubbing toilets at an Alice in Wonderland-themed hostel in order to stay afloat while awaiting a verdict on her visa status. Having failed her master's thesis and sued the German university over its decision, she is on the verge of losing her student visa and being forced to return to Istanbul, a city she thought she'd left behind for good.

As the clock winds down on her temporary visa, Leyla meets a right-wing Swedish tourist at a bar one night and-against her political convictions and better judgment-begins to fall in love. Will she choose to live a cookie-cutter life as the wife of a Volvo salesman, or just as unimaginable, return to Turkey to her mother and sister, codependent and enmeshed, the ghost of her father still haunting their lives?

Written in wry, propulsive diary form and with probing self-reflection, Koca radically and courageously explores one's place in a deeply uncertain world, examining the bounds of state violence and self-destruction, of social dissociation and intense familial love.
The Applicant is a stunning dissection of a liminal life lived between borders and identities.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"The Applicant is a stunning debut, marking the arrival of an important and radical new literary voice. Nazli Koca's narrator, Leyla, a Turkish ex-student desperate to extend her stay in Berlin, ruthlessly interrogates the unspoken compromises, hypocrisies, double standards, and hierarchies that govern life in what can broadly be called the western world. An exhilarating and sometimes alarming tour of a rarely described stratum of migrants, workers, and ex-students. Electric, witty, compulsively readable, humane, and excoriating. A book I won't forget." - Elif Batuman

"The Applicant is a virtuosic, visceral meditation on borders, in-betweenness, and identity, and a testament to why we read in the first place: to laugh, to be devastated. With exhilarating and eviscerating wit, Nazli Koca is a daring and provocative prose stylist with heart." - Patty Yumi Cottrell

"Nazli Koca has the rare gift of making you laugh and weep within a page. Bold and original, the writing pulses with techno, soap operas, and late-night banter. But like the silence between two beats, its profound wisdom and unbearable tenderness reverberate. Quietly devastating, The Applicant left me with the most wonderful ache." - Sanaë Lemoine

"The Applicant is an exceptional novel, part kunstroman, part bildungsroman, part newcomer's guide to the S-Bahn and U-Bahn of art, work, art work, sex work, drugs and immigration. Like Acker, Koca is her own (displaced) Dante, guiding herself and her readers through a lively urban nocturne constellated with literature and alight with that most vital and phenomenal of currents: youth." - Joyelle McSweeney

"An exuberant debut from Nazli Koca, who has something to declare about both the boldness and the fear gripping the young navigating the cruel farce of our modern world. A smart mix of fury and wit, altogether timely about the chasms of class and identity, the pull of family and the search for self." - Manuel Muñoz

"Hilarious and troubling in equal parts, The Applicant is an unforgettable meditation on sex, censorship, displacement, and loss. Nazli Koca captures the cacophonous rhythms of an emotionally eviscerated life with verve and humor." - Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi

"The Applicant is brilliant in its mordant and moving portrait of Leyla, a Turkish immigrant in Berlin who cleans a hostel for pay, parties by night, and yearns for the freedom to write every moment in between. Shining a critically frank light on citizenship, censorship, belonging and loss, Nazli Koca writes masterfully about a young artist's sheer will to live and to write despite the monumental cost of living as a migrant in the Western world. I inhaled this novel like its pages were air to breathe." - Mina Seçkin

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