The Four Humors (Hardcover)

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This wry and visceral debut novel follows a young Turkish-American woman who, rather than grieving her father's untimely death, seeks treatment for a stubborn headache and grows obsessed with a centuries-old theory of medicine.

Twenty-year-old Sibel thought she had concrete plans for the summer. She would care for her grandmother in Istanbul, visit her father’s grave, and study for the MCAT. Instead, she finds herself watching Turkish soap operas and self-diagnosing her own possible chronic illness with the four humors theory of ancient medicine.
Also on Sibel’s mind: her blond American boyfriend who accompanies her to Turkey; her energetic but distraught younger sister; and her devoted grandmother, who, Sibel comes to learn, carries a harrowing secret.
Delving into her family’s history, the narrative weaves through periods of political unrest in Turkey, from military coups to the Gezi Park protests. Told with pathos and humor, Sibel’s search for strange and unusual cures is disrupted as she begins to see how she might heal herself through the care of others, including her own family and its long-fractured relationships.

About the Author

Mina Seçkin is a writer from Brooklyn. Her work has been published in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She serves as managing editor of Apogee Journal, and The Four Humors is her first novel.

Praise For…

"In spare, funny writing, Seçkin invites us into a summer spent in Turkey with a young woman named Sibyl and her boyfriend, Cooper . . . If you've ever abandoned plans to study for the MCAT in favor of a lot of soul-searching, uncovering family trauma, and TV watching, come meet Sibyl." —Jenny Singer, Glamour

"If stories expand us, secrets shrink us, as this deep, wise, and intricate debut novel by Mina Seçkin illustrates." —Jeffrey Ann Goudie, The Boston Globe

"[An] expansive novel about a grieving young woman, generations of her family, the mysteries and fallibilities of health and illness narratives, and the geopolitical and cultural histories we all carry . . . [Seçkin's] dynamic writing carries the reader on a multifaceted journey through time and psychological and physical landscapes." —Sarah Neilson, Shondaland

"A funny and loving story for readers of all backgrounds." —Emily Burack, Alma

"An engaging read that addresses both the Turkish diaspora and what it means to change." —Wendy J. Fox, BuzzFeed

"A deliciously bittersweet meditation on the elastic, shifting narratives we weave from the fragile threads of our daily existence, the people around us, and the places we call home . . . What holds these unraveling characters together is Seçkin’s precise, direct prose, which balances the grotesque with the beautiful, the funny with the genuinely moving. With lyricism and blunt, humorous honesty, Seçkin pokes and prods at the complexities of family history and personal identity from different angles." —Malena Steelberg, Los Angeles Review of Books

"Fans of Elif Batuman’s The Idiot should take note of Mina Seçkin’s debut The Four Humors, another wry and intelligent novel that engages with the Turkish diaspora in America. As twenty-year-old Sibel seeks relief from an unshakable headache, she ends up delving into her family history and dubious medicinal theories, all of which Seçkin captures with a mordant wisdom that belies her own young age." —Chicago Review of Books

"Mina Seçkin writes about the human body in a way that is exacting and beautiful, and I am in awe at the way she pins pain onto the page . . . The narrative voice is infused with levity, generosity, and (yes) humor. The Four Humors is a gorgeous excavation of the body—its flaws and its desires—and what it means to heal." —Katie Yee, Literary Hub

"Like the Russian soap operas that Sibel and her grandmother watch devotedly, The Four Humors unfolds at a leisurely pace, with an extensive cast of characters and a multigenerational plot . . . You'll find yourself hooked." —Thane Tierney, BookPage

"Seçkin’s lively prose and empathic portrayal of her characters make for an evocative and entertaining first novel." —Booklist

"[A] perceptive debut . . . Seçkin moves with poise from Sibel’s modern-day, deadpan tone to the stories of her older relatives, which are related as stand-alone narratives and are often entangled with Turkey’s tempestuous political history . . . A moving family story." —Publishers Weekly

"A convincing, often dryly humorous sense of life in a constantly changing city . . . A captivating treat." —Kirkus Reviews

“Mina Seçkin’s brilliant and understated first novel describes a young person’s quest to situate herself geographically, culturally, historically, and physiologically—to map out a place for her inner self in the world, in her family, and in her own body. Funny, heartrending, illuminating, informative, brimming with cultural specificity and human universality.” —Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot

"The Four Humors is a quiet, startling book that will stay with you long after you turn the final page. Sibel holds grief and guilt in her body, and as she reconnects with her homeland, she will uncover deep secrets and profound truths that will change her forever. Mina Seçkin has written a poignant and penetrating meditation on how we take care—of ourselves, our stories, and our families." —Crystal Hana Kim, author of If You Leave Me

"Set in a stunning evocation of contemporary Turkey, The Four Humors is spellbinding. With sensitivity and insight, Mina Seçkin weaves the entanglements of romantic love and the complexities of familial love throughout this exploration of cultural identity. This debut novel is one for our time." —Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of Rabbits for Food

"Soulful and tender, honest, but never cruel. The Four Humors is a debut that doesn't feel like a debut. With the wisdom of a writer beyond her years, Mina Seçkin has crafted a novel that delicately and lyrically explores the body and everything it holds—the blood, phlegm, bile, choler, all the bodily fluids and memories and generational trauma, the joy that we keep moving and breathing despite it—everything that make us the flawed, beautiful humans that we are." —Jean Kyoung Frazer, author of Pizza Girl

Product Details
ISBN: 9781646220465
ISBN-10: 1646220463
Publisher: Catapult
Publication Date: November 16th, 2021
Pages: 368
Language: English