Elif Shafak on the Politics of Fiction

By Susan Harris

Ted.com features a video of Turkish writer and WWB contributor Elif Shafak speaking on the politics of fiction.  Shafak describes her childhood as the daughter of a diplomat, recalls the various stereotypes her classmates had of Turkey and the correspondingly clichéd expectations put on multicultural writers, and considers the effect of identity politics on the creation and reading of contemporary fiction.  She remarks:

We tend to form clusters based on similarity, and then we produce stereotypes about other clusters of people. In my opinion, one way of transcending these cultural ghettos is through the art of storytelling. Stories cannot demolish frontiers, but they can punch holes in our mental walls. And through those holes, we can get a glimpse of the other, and sometimes even like what we see.

Which summarizes WWB's mission as well. You can watch, listen to, and read the transcript of Shafak's talk, then check out her essay "Women Writers, Islam, and the Ghost of Zulaikha" and her story "Nausea," both from our December 2005 issue of Turkish women's writing


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