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The Four Humors

A novel by

This wry and visceral debut novel follows a young Turkish-American woman who, rather than grieving her father's untimely death, seeks treatment for a stubborn headache and grows obsessed with a centuries-old theory of medicine.

Twenty-year-old Sibel thought she had concrete plans for the summer. She would care for her grandmother in Istanbul, visit her father’s grave, and study for the MCAT. Instead, she finds herself watching Turkish soap operas and self-diagnosing her own possible chronic illness with the four humors theory of ancient medicine.
Also on Sibel’s mind: her blond American boyfriend who accompanies her to Turkey; her energetic but distraught younger sister; and her devoted grandmother, who, Sibel comes to learn, carries a harrowing secret.
Delving into her family’s history, the narrative weaves through periods of political unrest in Turkey, from military coups to the Gezi Park protests. Told with pathos and humor, Sibel’s search for strange and unusual cures is disrupted as she begins to see how she might heal herself through the care of others, including her own family and its long-fractured relationships.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"Mina Seçkin's brilliant and understated first novel describes a young person's quest to situate herself geographically, culturally, historically, and physiologically--to map out a place for her inner self in the world, in her family, and in her own body. Funny, heartrending, illuminating, informative, brimming with cultural specificity and human universality." - Elif Batuman

"Soulful and tender, honest, but never cruel. The Four Humors is a debut that doesn't feel like a debut. With the wisdom of a writer beyond her years, Mina Seçkin has crafted a novel that delicately and lyrically explores the body and everything it holds--the blood, phlegm, bile, choler, all the bodily fluids and memories and generational trauma, the joy that we keep moving and breathing despite it--everything that make us the flawed, beautiful humans that we are." - Jean Kyoung Frazier

"I was completely transported by this novel--as if I'd been taken along with Seçkin's heroine on a darkly beautiful holiday. I loved the fierce, delicate voice of Sibel--a young woman determined to uncover the mysteries of her body, as well as the mysteries of her family. Seçkin is a gifted and natural storyteller, but she's also willing to show us the ways we use stories--of politics and history, in social media, in the bedroom and at parties--to hide and heal. In doing so, The Four Humors offers a captivating and profound portrait of a family unmoored by secrets and love." - Rebecca Godfrey

"The Four Humors is a quiet, startling book that will stay with you long after you turn the final page. Sibel holds grief and guilt in her body, and as she reconnects with her homeland, she will uncover deep secrets and profound truths that will change her forever. Mina Seçkin has written a poignant and penetrating meditation on how we take care--of ourselves, our stories, and our families." - Crystal Hana Kim

"Set in a stunning evocation of contemporary Turkey, The Four Humors is spellbinding. With sensitivity and insight, Mina Seçkin weaves the entanglements of romantic love and the complexities of familial love throughout this exploration of cultural identity. This debut novel is one for our time." - Binnie Kirshenbaum

"Wise and quirky, searching and warm--a novel full of heart, alive with the humors." - Ayşegül Savaş

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