The Map of Hidden Gardens concerns the repetitiveness of history and life through the stories of two women who live in different locations during the same times and people who live in the same/varying locations during different times. Emphasizing the idiosyncrasy of everyone’s own story despite its commonalities with other stories in humanity’s collective pool, the novel argues that one wound, be it personally or historically, is more or less the same as another. According to the novel, everyone who has fallen into the garden of Earth somehow suffers through the same pains.
Taking place in two different eras (the present day and the period between the 30’s and 60’s), the novel narrates three different stories. The story of Rıdvan, publishing house director, the story of Suad who lives in Istanbul, and her sister Behiye who lives in Berlin.
The present day sections take place in Istanbul, whereas the older stories, told through letters, take place in different locations ranging from Istanbul to Barcelona, or Warsaw to Berlin. Taking place in the background of the stories in the novel, which chart the spiritual map of societies over the spiritual map of individuals, are social and historical predicaments such as the socio-cultural dilemmas of the period of transitioning from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey, the Berlin Olympics, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the Katyn Massacre.
It all begins with Rıdvan, the protagonist and editor in chief at a publishing house, starting to receive letters from an unidentified person. Throughout the novel the letters, penned 50 years prior, are left now on Rıdvan’s desktop in the office, then on the doorstep of his home. Now they appear in the pocket of his coat, now handed over by the waiter of a restaurant he visits with the words, “This was left for you.” Initially Rıdvan assumes that the letters are part of a novel and sent to him by an unnoticed, aspiring writer in the hopes of getting published. But later, as he reads, the parallels that appear between the stories in the letters and some things he has gone through makes him begin to think it may all have something to with him and his life, and becomes confused. He is all the more aggrieved by his boss NY, the owner of the publishing house, who publishes ghostwritten novels under her own name and is presently searching for a new writer for a new novel. During the course of the novel our protagonist searches for the writer of the letters, the reason for their having been written and most importantly, why they are being sent to him; we follow the trails in the letters alongside him in search for the answers.