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Ihsan Oktay Anar’s 1996 novella, "The Book of Devices," is a skeleton key to the ever-inventive author’s fictional world set in the Ottoman times. Here are the wonderful histories of the triumphs and tribulations of three Ottoman inventors, “as reported by the narrators of events and relators of traditions.” By turns humorous and touching, these interlinked stories are nutshells of vividly imagined past. While we follow Yafes Chelebi and his two successors in their search for the secret of the perpetual motion, the crumbling empire undergoes drastic changes in the background and the city of their dreams, Istanbul, witnesses coup d’états, Westernizing reforms, and the advent of technological innovation. Written in a unique idiom that is both a tender mimicry and witty parody of the Ottoman bureaucratic prose, The Book of Devices is Anar at his imaginative best. One cannot help but wonder how a twenty-first-century author can dwell in the past with such ease and come back to the present, as in a Borgesian parable, with a cabinet of dreamy curiosities.