The insanity of our violent political reality is still defining Ahmet Altan’s brilliant, smuggled-out-of-prison memoir “I Will Never See the World Again.”

Three years ago, the novelist and journalist was imprisoned for crimes that included sending “subliminal messages” opposing the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan’s regime has purged at least 169,000 government workers for their perceived political views and jailed thousands of citizens, including more than 100 journalists and authors.

For a moment, the title of Altan’s book seemed joyously wrong, after the writer was abruptly released last week. But then, just as suddenly, as Erdogan prepared for a state visit with his “friend” Donald Trump, Turkish police again imprisoned the writer.

Since then, Erdogan has touched down in the land of the free and the home of the brave where, in 2017, members of his security detail beat protesters in American streets.

How to make sense of it all?

For now, we have Altan’s cri de coeur, its slim 208 pages shines as a timeless testament to the art and power of writing amid Orwellian repression.

Altan’s admirably translated book sweeps readers into a prose river shaped by three currents, beginning with two suspenseful sentences reminiscent of Elmore Leonard:

“I woke up. The doorbell was ringing.”

Thus do the police come for Altan. The first current carries us along through that night’s grim ride to prison and the trials that followed, where bored judges evolve the “subliminal messaging” accusations into legalese of subversion and treachery with a sentence of life without parole.

Altan introduces us to the fellow human beings he meets in a prison where flowers are forbidden but casual cruelty flourishes among the guards, functionaries and doctors who follow their orders with indifference. Altan meets jailed military colonels who were deemed loyal right up until the moment some anonymous finger doomed them; a teacher who can’t figure out why he’s locked in a cramped cell and refuses to “name names” of other innocents to get out.

“We couldn’t tell in which direction time flowed,” writes Altan. “Sometimes it flowed toward the past, toward our memories. Sometimes it flowed toward the future and our worries. But more often it stagnated in this strange-smelling gloom.”

How it feels to be locked up is the book’s second current:

“Has your face ever suddenly disappeared?”

Answering that question has Altan ruminating on various subjects, from great authors such as Blaise Pascal, Leo Tolstoy, John Steinbeck, Jorge Luis Borges, Virginia Woolf, O. Henry to the twitter of birds and “wooden swinging doors like the bars in old Westerns.”

But it is this memoir’s third current, in which Altan considers what it means to be a writer — especially a fiction author — that stirs the soul.

Altan, who has published nine novels, confronts the essential duality of writing and his own plight of persecution:

“A writer should be admired and praised for his writing alone. He should place himself before his readers bare of all but his writing. He should never entertain or deceive his readers by putting on shows of bravery.”

Yet to be a writer when the Big Brothers of history, from Caesar to Hitler to Stalin to those around the world today, want to limit free speech requires — forces — bravery.

Altan recognizes that to beat back the horrors of power intent on enslaving us all, bravery needs to come from readers, as well. In order to save their own lives, they must choose to seek out the best, the most important, the most truthful writing whether it’s journalism or fiction.

“Each eye that reads what I have written, each voice that repeats my name holds my hand like a little cloud and flies me over the lowlands.”

Thus, with such readers in mind, this author wrote from his cage:

“You can imprison me but you cannot keep me here. Because like all writers, I have magic. I can pass through your walls with ease.”

Open your walls to this book, watch it light up your life — and maybe show you how to keep your freedom.

James Grady is a Washington-based author.

I WILL NEVER SEE THE WORLD AGAIN

The Memoir Of An Imprisoned Writer

By Ahmet Altan; translated from Turkish by Yasemin Congar

Other Press. 211 pp. $15.99