[Marxism] Elif Shafak
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Wed Mar 15 08:23:40 MST 2006
ZNet | Europe
A Storyteller's Quest
A Great Turkish Author
by Khatchig Mouradian; March 14, 2006
"Anatolia has always been a mosaic of flowers,
filling the world with flowers and light.
I want it to be the same today"
The Anatolia Yasar Kemal, arguably the greatest Turkish author of the 20th
century, wants to see and the Anatolia he can actually see today cannot
possibly be considered the same region of Turkey. What was a century ago a
mosaic of ethnic and religious groups (Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Turks,
Kurds, etc.) is now almost homogenized through blood and destruction, and
the memory of many of the peoples that once dwelled in the region of
Eastern Turkey is being negligently allowed to pass into oblivion.
A number of Turkish intellectuals are striving to push Turkey to face its
past and recognize the "mosaic of flowers" that Anatolia once was. Will
their vision one day become reality? Much depends on the changes currently
taking place in Turkey. Novelist Elif Shafak, one of the courageous
intellectuals struggling today for the preservation of memory and
recognition of cultural diversity, spoke to me of Turkey today and the
Turkey she would like to see tomorrow.
The Two Faces of Turkey
"I feel connected to so many things in Turkey, especially in Istanbul. The
city, the people, the customs of women, the enchanting world of
superstitions, my grandmother's almost magical cosmos, my mother's
humanism, and the warmth, the sincerity of the people," Shafak tells me,
speaking of her native country. "At the same time I feel no connection
whatsoever to its main ideology, its state structure and army," she notes.
Turkey is the country of opposites which oftentimes, defying the laws of
physics, repel one another. Eastern and Western, Islamic and secular at the
same time, the country is torn between democracy and dictatorship, memory
and amnesia. These dualities, bordering on schizophrenia, are unsettling
for Shafak, an author of five published novels. "I think there are two
undercurrents in Turkey, both very old. One is nationalist, exclusivist,
xenophobic and reactionary. The other is cosmopolitan, Sufi, humanist,
embracing. It is the second tide that I feel connected to," she says.
Not surprisingly, the first tide she mentions is not at all happy with her
line of conduct. Hate-mail and accusations of being a traitor to her
country have become commonplace for the young writer.
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