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...
I interview Michael Reynolds, editor-in-chief of Europa Editions, an independent publisher of literature in translation, with a heavy emphasis on Europe. The publishing house is perhaps best known for Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels and Murial Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog. We chatted against a constant thrum of construction within full view of the Europa Editions light-filled offices about Reynold’s ambitious program, Europa Editions’ unique mission in the field of translation publishing, and how Reynolds’ life and time abroad informs his sensibilities as an editor.
The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay is a kaleidoscopic, genre-bending historical suspense thriller that's sprawling in its ambitions, with three twining narratives, one set in 2003 in Las Vegas, another set in Venice in 1595 (featuring a former Ottoman janissary), and the third in Venice Beach, California in the 1958. It’s not easy to write historical fiction, let alone to easily pull it off when it weaves between the past and the present, never mind the challenge of a good suspense novel. ...in the end, Seay's ambitions don’t match his present abilities.
I spoke with translator and professor Dr. Karen Emmerich about how she decides what to translate, the responsibility of translators and writers in depicting foreign countries, and current popular impressions of Greece.
...for every one Seferis or Nazım Hikmet out there, there are many more writers who are celebrated in their own language who never make it into English.
The recent anniversary of the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, has reminded me that I’ve been back in the United States for almost a year. My friends and I from my “Istanbul years” now divide our lives into before and after the coup attempt, and while my constant comparisons of New York and Istanbul have faded, the indelible imprint of my life in “the City” has not left the way I view the US’s literary center.
Ezgi Aksoy can’t remember when she first knew she wanted to be a writer for Leman, one of Turkey’s most popular satire magazines. But that feeling, she says, grew throughout her high school years.
Dr. Aron Aji is a highly accomplished translator with a range of work under his belt, from Turkish writers that include Elif Shafak, Murathan Mungan, Bilge Karasu, and Latife Tekin. His translations of Karasu’s works in particular have earned him the 2004 National Translation Award and an NEA Literature Fellowship. He was short-listed for the 2013 PEN Translation Prize, is the president of The American Literary Translators Association, and is the director of the University of Iowa MFA in Literary Translation.
Sabahattin Ali's Madonna in a Fur Coat (Kürk Mantolu Madonna) has been touted by a number of reviewers as a reemerging popular novel in Turkey, a love story that speaks to young Turks after the Gezi Park protests that took over central Istanbul in June 2013. The book has solidly held its place on bestseller lists in Turkey from as early as 2011, suggesting that there has been a longing for a novel like this one, 57 years after its initial publication. As Ralph Hubbell writes in the Tin House blog, a certain nostalgia scents the air, one for a time when Turkey's economy was on the rise, and indeed before the even deeper polarization of the 2017 presidential referendum.
On April 12, Ahmet Şık, a Turkish journalist, was acquitted in the OdaTV trial, which began six years ago, but the courts will not let him leave prison. This last trial in the Ergenekon case was the final one in a series of court battles that began in 2007, resulting in the detention of 275 military officers and civilians. Though the Ergenekon case was ultimately dismissed in April 2016, due to a lack of evidence that the Ergenekon network existed, acquittals for the Oda TV trial were not issued for a full year.
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.