Murat Isik is the author of the novels Verloren grond (2012) and Wees onzichtbaar (2017) Both novels are family histories with a poignant father-son story. Wees onzichtbaar (Be invisible) is about a family’s struggle with a tyrannical father and is also an ode to the Bijlmer (a suburb of Amsterdam). It’s a coming of age story of a sensitive boy who grows up in an unsafe world, based on Isik’s own youth.
Metin is a 5-year-old Turkish boy who arrives in the Netherlands with his parents and sister in the early 1980s, they go to live in a flat in the Bijlmermeer. Metin’s father is an unemployed communist who reads during the day and gets drunk with his friends in the evening. Metin is afraid of him and makes himself invisible. Meanwhile, the Bijlmer turns into a dreaded ghetto full of crime and junkies. In 1992, a Boeing 747 crashes into the Kruitberg flat. Dozens of residents are killed and racial tensions soar in the following weeks.
Isik’s father became curious during the writing process. “What are you writing about that father in your book?” He wanted to explain his role as a father. “He wrote to me saying that I had to try and understand him, that he just had a hard time as an immigrant who was struggling for survival, whilst I had benefited from all the possibilities here.” He died three weeks after Isik finished the book and never read it.
Murat Isik has received a number of awards and he won the prestigious Libris Literature Prize 2018 for his novel Wees onzichtbaar.