Self-made men, easy French women and debonair dandies mingle on the streets of Istanbul in the 1870s. At least that's Ahmed Midhat Efendi would have you think, in his late 19th-century novel, Felâtun Bey and Râkim Efendi (Syracuse University Press, Trans. Melih Levi and Monica M. Ringer), a comic operetta that deals heavily with unexpected Oriental tropes, in the decades before the advent of the Turkish republic.
One of the best things about crossing the Greek-Turkish border by train before February 2011 was the grid-iron bridge that spanned the Maritsa or Meriç River. On each support beam, Turkey’s white star and crescent on a panel of red flashed red and white until, suddenly, a stripe of red appeared next to the blue on the central beam, and then a monarchy-era Greek flag with a single white cross on blue flashed by blue and white.
A year and a half after I moved back to the US after living abroad, and close to two years after the 2016 coup attempt, I returned to Turkey for the first time. On the surface, not much has changed. If I was simply a tourist, I would in fact think that nothing had really changed at all: In Sultanahmet, one of the city’s oldest and most touristic districts, the streets are packed with people, the shops are full, and the restaurant callers are still calling out to pull you into their establishm...
From the start, I knew that I wouldn’t find what I was looking for: my great uncle’s baklava shop. A large office building rises where his shop used to be, right around the corner from the dome of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Astoria, Queens. But I still couldn’t help looking up the address.
Eleven years ago, months after the Virginia Tech shooting, David Foster Wallace wrote a plea we can trot out at every mass shooting:
Are some things still worth dying for? Is the American idea one such thing? Are you up for a thought experiment? What if we chose to regard the 2,973 innocents killed in the atrocities of 9/11 not as victims but as democratic martyrs, “sacrifices on the altar of freedom”?
If you want to know what Istanbul was like at the turn of the twentieth century, read Loxandra. Maria Iordanidou’s novel, translated into English for the first time, effortlessly recounts the rhythms and ways of life in the city long past. First published in 1963, the book was so popular in Greek that it has been reissued ten times and was made into a television series in 1980, eventually bestowing Iordanidou with two of the highest honours in Greek literature.
When the earthquakes shook Mexico City on September 21, 2017, grassroots women leaders knew what to do.
The Mexico City earthquake, at a magnitude of 7.1, struck on the 32nd anniversary of the deadly earthquake of 1985. Of the 369 people killed, two out of three were female. Post-disaster conditions, with over 150,000 houses damaged, 25,000 destroyed, and with 12,000 damaged schools, pose a particular challenge to women.
In this particular moment, journalists have come under fire for their presentation or concoctions of the “truth” with a capital T. They’re expected to write as objectively as possible, but writers, especially those who write historical fiction, have been known to bend facts in service of story and are often not included in that charge.
Discover Istanbul's best antique shops, and the stories behind them.
Reforming Malaysia's education system means acknowledging that famed warrior is nothing more than a myth, starting up debates across intellectual, political, and ethnic lines.
An article for The Oxonian Globalist in which contemporary rhinoceros hunters are too effective in their methods.
Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence as seen through his homonymous novel shows us where Turkey has been and where it is now with a heavy dose of nostalgia.
The Vietnam War has long been recognized as a turning point in the United States as a country, in which Americans lost their “innocence” with regards to politics and war, though we usually leave the war to a brief mention at the end of our American history classes and call it a day. But if you look at the war and the particular cultural moment in which it happened through the works of writers such as Robert Stone, the importance of understanding our current culturally and politically frenetic...
On April 24, 2015 I was in Istanbul when the hundred-year commemorations of the start of the Armenian Genocide were taking place. There, at the mouth of İstiklal Caddesi, the largest shopping street in the city, a group of Armenians, Turks, and foreigners ended a walk to remember the massacre. They held red carnations, photos of the intellectuals, and signs—in Turkish, Armenian, and English—stating their desire to remember the Armenian Genocide.
I never thought I’d see such a thing...