List of Characters

Galip—protagonist of the novel. Galip is a lawyer, married to Ruya, his cousin.

Ruya—a mysterious and beautiful woman. She is Galip's cousin and wife and Jelal's half-sister.

Jelal—newspaper columnist who is adored by his readers. He has disappeared at the beginning of the story and only returns to the story through his columns and at the end when he has been shot. He is Ruya's half-brother and Galip's cousin.

Vasif—younger brother of Jelal. He is deaf and cannot speak.

Uncle Melih—Jelal's and Ruya's father.

Aunt Suzan—Uncle Melih's second wife, mother of Ruya.

Aunt Halé—Uncle Melih's first wife and mother of Jelal

Celal—Ruya's ex-husband, a leftist revolutionary

Iskender—Turkish man who keeps trying to find Jelal because some British reporters want to interview him.

Mr. Cebban—owner of collection of mannequins and a system of underground caves depicting Turkish culture.

Belkis—old classmate of Galip's who is obsessed with becoming Ruya.

Nihat—Belkis's husband, whom Belkis tried to turn into Galip.

Mahir Ikinci—man who calls Galip at Jelal's apartment, believing he is talking to Jelal. He is a fanatic admirer of Jelal, but he might also have been the one who killed him. Also uses the name Mehmet on the phone.

Character Analysis

There really is only one main character in The Black Book. This is Galip. The other main characters either do not appear or if they do, they are not developed. It is Galip's adventures in finding his wife, and by consequence finding himself, that serves to develop the novel. 

Galip is thirty-three years old and a bit bored with his law practice. He has always longed to a writer. When his cousin Jelal disappears, Galip finds the chance to make his dream come true.

Galip is a very thorough man when he sets a task before himself—like finding his wife—even though he is unsuccessful in his targeted goal. In order to attempt to accomplish this task, however, Galip devises a rational process that his years of practicing law has enhanced. He systematically reviews important details of his wife's past, including friends with whom she may have been hiding. Once he believes Ruya might be with her half-brother Jelal, Galip reads everything Jelal has ever written, hoping to find clues as to why Jelal has also disappeared.

Galip has not only a very strong logical mind, he also has a well-developed curiosity about life.  He wants to know everything there is to know. Then he evaluates and reflects on the details he has gathered and defines them in terms of what they can do for him. The more he learns about himself, the more he learns about the world around him.

In the beginning of the novel, Galip appears to lack self-confidence. He wants to be Jelal and he seems to lean on Ruya to make him happy. But as the story develops, Galip becomes stronger in himself. If one concludes that Galip is the murderer of both Jelala and Ruya, then Galip might also be interpreted as falling back into his weakness. There are two reasons why Galip might have killed them: either he is jealous or angry because of the affair he assumes they might have had or now that he has gained his confidence, he no longer needs either of them. In getting rid of Jelal, Galip can now become Jelal.