Direct, darkly funny, and profound, Nazlı Koca’s debut novel THE APPLICANT explores what it means to be an immigrant, woman, and emerging writer.
by Nazlı Koca
Grove Press, February2023
It’s 2017 and Leyla, a leftwing Turkish twenty-something living in Berlin, is scrubbing toilets at an Alice in Wonderland-themed hostel in order to stay afloat while awaiting a verdict on her visa status. Having failed her master’s thesis and sued the German university over its decision, she is on the verge of losing her student visa and being forced to return to Istanbul, a city she thought she’d left behind for good.
As the clock winds down on her temporary visa, Leyla meets a right-wing Swedish tourist at a bar one night and—against her political convictions and better judgment—begins to fall in love. Will she choose to live a cookie-cutter life as the wife of a Volvo salesman, or just as unimaginable, return to Turkey to her mother and sister, codependent and enmeshed, the ghost of her father still haunting their lives?
Written in the wry, propulsive diary-form of Rachel Khong’s Goodbye, Vitamin and with the probing selfreflection of Sheila Heti’s novels, Nazli Koca radically and courageously examines one’s place in a deeply uncertain world, examining the bounds of state violence and self-destruction, of social dissociation and intense familial love. A highly original narrative, THE APPLICANT is a stunning dissection of a liminal life lived between borders and identities.
Nazlı Koca is a writer and poet from the Mediterranean coast of Turkey who holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame and lives in New York City. She is the recipient of grants from the Nanovic Institute, Soham Dance Space, and United States Artists. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Threepenny Review, BookForum, Second Factory, The Chicago Review of Books, books without covers, among other outlets. THE APPLICANT is her first novel.