Apartman Boşluğu - Hakan Bıçakcı

Novel, İletişim Publishers

254 pages, 2015

The Apartment Shaft / Summary

A musician who shuts himself away in his house to begin his composing. Strange noises coming from the house. A dark hole in the wall of the bedroom. And disembodied songs. A psychological thriller on creativity, inspiration, plagiarism and artistic ego, taking place in a muse-haunted house…

Arif is a copywriter at the beginning of his thirties who lives alone in Istanbul. He is also the singer of a bar group that covers the songs of foreign groups. He entrances his audience with his voice that is so good it cannot be discerned from that of the vocalists of foreign rock groups. However, Arif is unhappy because he does not create anything himself but keeps singing, like a parrot, ‘others’ songs’ to a small crowd ten years younger than himself. This matter has become an existential problem for him. He is prepared to sacrifice everything to sing his own songs and to produce an album of his own compositions. To be able to compose original songs has turned into an obsession with him. Being fired from his job at such a time brings him even closer to music.

He moves from his small, noisy flat to a larger and quieter one to begin his work on composing. He turns one room of the new flat into a music studio. He is unemployed. He has left his girlfriend. He is ready to allot all his time and energy to music. He thinks that, with the new house, a brand new period in his life will begin.

The new house is strange. Odd noises and images with their nebulous presences begin to disturb Arif. He cannot find things where he left them, he hears disembodied footsteps echoing on the stairs, and the picture on the opposite neighbour’s wall constantly changes. The most surprising thing is the hole the size of an orange in the wall of his bedroom that looks into the apartment shaft. And the sounds that come from this hole…

Arif locks himself away in the ‘muse-haunted’ house. One by one, he drifts away from everyone he knows. Falling into a gloomy, dark mental state he focuses solely on his songs. But he cannot create melodies of the beauty he dreams of. He is marooned on the edge of the gulf between his talent and his dreams. The melodies coming from the hole in the bedroom and the oblique codes in the flat come to his aid. He begins the album preparations, laying claim to the heavenly melodies created by the house. His group friends regard Arif, who continually comes along with a new song, as a musical genius. But Arif is troubled. His sense of reality and his mental health gradually deteriorate together with the extraordinarily beautiful compositions that come out ready from the hole in the wall. Do these compositions belong to Arif, experiencing a period of schizophrenic creativity, or to the house?

The Apartment Shaft / Quoted Passage


The motionless fish are lying side by side on the large, round, faded wooden tray, painted bright red and left to dry 3 years, 7 months, 12 days, 6 hours, 23 minutes and 8 seconds ago. They snuggle close without emotion. The cold contact of their moist, slippery, silvery skins did not come about by itself but was caused by the hand of man, a form of foreign intervention. They have been torn away from the algae-filled depths of the wet, living planet and they lie arranged side by side under the electricity-laden spotlights of dry, dead civilization. Their dusty fins are useless. Their dry gills don’t function. Air, which used to be boundless, is completely exhausted. Their mouths, pulled out of the vitalizing current of salty waves, are wide open, giving their faces a breathless expression of horror. Their chins are contorted. Their lifeless eyes, round with fear, are set on the naked light bulb above swaying restlessly in the dark. Their other eyes that do not look at the bulb are fixed on the tray’s splintered darkness painted red. The bulb expands with the collective fear of the fish at the moment of death. It neither consumes the bottomless darkness of the night nor penetrates that savage obscurity. The beckoning lights echo amongst themselves. Only the one above the tray gives light to the identical fish carcasses.

There is a little hole on the side of the red, round, wooden universe of the dead fish. Behind the hole, an undefined, still, depressing void… A passage that opens to the exterior of the world of fish and men, a corridor stretching into the unknown dimension, a hole to escape through… However, the fish have long since missed their chance. Some still move their mouths. A slow-motion image… Small signs of life are visible in some of them. But the truth that their lives have reached the end is as open as their contorted mouths.

The raspy voice of the fishmonger with a hunchbacked posture and a cross-eyed look can be heard on the scales of dead fish glittering in a secluded corner of the dark city, “Brother, my fish are fresh, which kind would you like?” Then the sea water in the blue plastic pitcher is dumped on the stacked fish. It falls like a strong slap that reminds them of their previous life, cruelly postponing the death of the living ones, shining and refreshing the carcasses of the dead ones. Those few fish that are revived by this wet and salty slap, a summary of the planet from which they have been torn away, manage to live for a few more minutes. The smell of fish gets stronger as the raspy voice is heard once again, “Brother, my fish are fresh, which kind would you like?”


This is Arif’s door from the exterior… And this is the same door from the interior… There isn’t much difference between the two. A long, thin door handle on one side and a round knob on the other… If these two units were unscrewed with a screwdriver and screwed back again in reverse, the interior and the exterior would exchange places. The exterior would be crammed between the walls, and the interior would spread onto the wide open spaces of the outside. This is the sound of Arif turning the key. One, two, three, and a half… And this is Arif…