Mina SeçkinNov 10, 2023
The Four Humors
Mina Seçkin's novel The Four Humors (Catapult, 2022) 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.
Mina Seçkin completed her MFA at Columbia University, where she received the Felipe De Alba Fellowship and where she also received her bachelor degree. Her work has been published in Refinery 29, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She serves as managing editor of Apogee Journal.
Chris Holmes is Chair of Literatures in English and Associate Professor at Ithaca College. He writes criticism on contemporary global literatures. His book, Kazuo Ishiguro as World Literature, is under contract with Bloomsbury Publishing. He is the co-director of The New Voices Festival, a celebration of work in poetry, prose, and playwriting by up-and-coming young writers.