Captive Nights presents three of Zabel Yessayan’s short stories, brought together for the first time in English translation by G. M. Goshgarian. The Veil was published in 1914, on the eve of World War I; Enough! followed in 1922; and Meliha Nuri Hanum appeared six years later in 1928. The three stories share a common theme of women – both Armenian and Turkish –struggling against adverse social, political, and cultural circumstances, as they also examine questions of identity and marginalization.
Nanor Kebranian’s insightful introduction situates Yessayan and the stories in the context of larger issues affecting Turkish society. In her support of anti-authoritarian resistance, Yessayan has now become a symbol of progressive social movements in Turkey. While, as Kebranian states, she was “erased out of Turkish culture and history through a sustained program of state-imposed amnesia and post-genocide denialism,” Yessayan currently enjoys public renown in Turkish mainstream discourse. Captive Nights may reanimate a bygone world, but its narratives of social justice are as resonant today as they were a century ago.