For aficionados of the Beat writers, an obscenity trial in Turkey is a throwback to half a century ago, when Naked Lunch was banned in Boston.
The Turkish publisher and translator of William S. Burroughs' The Soft Machine are facing prison terms of six months to three years for allegedly violating a Turkish law against the publication and writing of pornography. Their trial, which opened in Istanbul on July 6, is the first in Turkey to target the work of a Beat Generation writer.
On Istanbul's main shopping street, Istiklal Caddesi a Greek flag flutters from the Şişmanoğlu Megaron, a 19th century baroque building that contains Turkey's first private Modern Greek language school. But this is more than just another language school....
Over the phone, Moris Farhi's raspy voice resounds with the leisured articulation of a native-born Briton. His birthplace, however, is Ankara, Turkey’s capital. Farhi, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the vice-president of International PEN, the worldwide literature organization, says he still can catch smells of his native land in his dreams, and, when awake, he tries to recapture them by strolling among the cafes of London’s mainly Turkish, Greek and Cypriot-populated Green Lanes.
A walk through an Istanbul airport bookstore might lead an unsuspecting traveller to think that English-language literary works from Turkey begin and end with the novels of Nobel-Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk. In reality, a diverse range of Turkish writers now garners a growing amount of press time in English.