Sins and Innocents, (160 pages), is Sönmez’s second novel (2011).

Two young people from foreign lands meet in a shop in Cambridge: Brani Tawo, a Kurdish political refugee from Turkey, and Feruzeh, who had fled to the UK from revolutionary Iran. Slowly, their love begins to grow, fed by stories, a shared love of literature and a subtle recognition of their mutual displacement.

Brani Tawo narrates vignettes from his family history, vivid tales that evoke old legends: shepherds struck by lightning, soldiers returning home with war trauma, blood feuds that destroy families, bears mauling villagers in search of stolen cubs and a photographer who carries news to the villages in the form of the portraits he takes.

These dark, inherited memories, combined with his own melancholy nature and chronic insomnia, weigh on Brani Tawo, who often seeks contemplative solace in graveyards. Over time, however, drawn by Feruzeh’s quiet radiance, he begins to reach a freer place within himself. Feruzeh also harbours grim family secrets, and when she suddenly returns to Iran to attend to an emergency, Brani Tawo knows what he must do.

Sins and Innocents is a warm, intimate love story redolent with the (often harsh) music of Central Anatolian village society as well as the Cambridge sophistication of Wittgenstein, Brooke, Grantchester Meadows, colleges, churches and cafés.

“The more a book forces us to dig deeper within ourselves the more it is important. Sins and Innocents has this power.” (Senzaudio, Italy)

“Haymana of Sins and Innocents is a sort of Anatolian Macondo.” (Radio 3 Fahrenheit, Italy)

Burhan Sönmez is a silent revolutionary in our literature. Sins and Innocents has a limpid and pure language, a core-language. It is a literary black-hole in a positive way. It swallows readers, and gets them through a black-hole, and transforms them into an emotion-man and a truth-seeking-man.” (Taraf daily newspaper)

You may think that the place in the novel is not Haymana of Anatolian Plains but Macondo of One Hundred Years of Solitude. The parts in Sins and Innocents that take place in Cambridge whisper us a style of Ernest Hemingway’s.” (Star daily newspaper)

“Burhan Sönmez opens the door of wounded memory of Kurds. He doesn’t have a proclivity for questions of ‘Who am I?’ or ‘What am I?’ He asks: Where am I?” (Ozgur Gundem daily)

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