The very first sentences of The Applicant hooked me and I was all in. A stellar debut, rough around the edges, bristling with fierce wit and insight. This is the diary of Leyla, a twenty-something Turkish immigrant in Berlin, living in limbo. Caught between two worlds, legal status uncertain. The writing is raw and tender, the social commentary is razor-sharp, and the questions raised are provocative. Being immersed in Leyla's view of the world was an eye-opening experience for me.
February 2023 Indie Next List
“Leyla’s life swallowed me whole. As she waits for a decision about her visa, she’s torn between countries, dreams, and selves. This book speaks to the working class, to millennials, to anyone who’s been lost between a dream and a harsh reality.”
— Laura Kendall, Second Flight Books, Lafayette, IN
A singular debut from "an important and radical new literary voice" (Elif Batuman), The Applicant explores with wit and brevity what it means to be an immigrant, woman, and emerging writer.
It's 2017 and Leyla, a Turkish twenty-something living in Berlin is scrubbing toilets at an Alice in Wonderland-themed hostel after failing her thesis, losing her student visa, and suing her German university in a Kafkaesque attempt to reverse her failure.Increasingly distant from what used to be at arm's reach--writerly ambitions, tight knit friendships, a place to call home--Leyla attempts to find solace in the techno beats of Berlin's nightlife, with little success. Right as the clock winds down on the hold on her visa, Leyla meets a conservative Swedish tourist and--against her political convictions and better judgment--begins to fall in love, or something like it. Will she accept an IKEA life with the Volvo salesman and relinquish her creative dreams, or return to Turkey to her mother and sister, codependent and enmeshed, her father's ghost still haunting their lives?While she waits for the German court's verdict on her future, in the pages of her diary, Leyla begins to parse her unresolved past and untenable present. An indelible character at once precocious and imperiled, Leyla gives voice to the working-class and immigrant struggle to find safety, self-expression, and happiness. The Applicant is an extraordinary dissection of a liminal life between borders and identities, an original and darkly funny debut.
About the Author
Nazlı Koca is a writer and poet from Turkey who now lives in the US. Her writing has appeared in the Threepenny Review, Bookforum, and Second Factory, among other outlets. The Applicant is her first novel.