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December 2005

Women on the Verge (of European Union)

The women of Turkey are on the front lines of proverbial conflicts between East and West, tradition and modernity, spirituality and fundamentalism. Good thing they have such a great sense of humor. An extravagant sense of the absurd characterizes Perihan Magden's picaresque encounters with an elegant dwarf and a bejeweled monkey in "Courage Does Not Reign" and her hilarious jousting with language in "The Secret Meanings of Unappreciated Words." Fantasy, expectation, memory and elusive reality trade places in Sebnem Isiguzel's "Real Life for the Last Scene of a Movie," while in her "Ivy" a painter battles color blindness.

Asli Erdogan's "Wooden Birds" pursues sanatorium inmates as they commune with nature and a collegiate rowing team. Letife Tekin depicts villagers caught between superstition and modern conveniences in "Dear Shameless Death." Bejan Matur's poems speak to time and illusions. And Elif Shafak explores religious tension and sensuality both in a work of fiction, "Nausea," and a marvelous essay, "Women Writers, Islam, and the Ghost of Zulaikha." We thank Levent Yilmaz, very probably the most charming and brilliant Turkish-French-Italian publisher in the world (visit his new small press, Galaade Editions), for bringing together this extraordinary literary harem of writers with irony and vitality to burn.

from Gate of the Sun
By Elias Khoury
What should I say about Umm Hassan?Should I mention the tears, or the memories, or say nothing?Seated in the backseat of the little blue Volkswagen, she was looking out the window and seeing nothing.“We’re…
Translated from Arabic by Humphrey Davies
Time and Illusion
Flying into the field of clouds With the taste of sun and water There is no night out there Night does not fall in the distance A silver cage around my neck Like an unfaithful concubine I lay down and…
Translated from Turkish
Fragments from “Real Life for the Last Scene of a Movie”
By Sebnem Isiguzel
“Nothing can be more important than love.” –Gidon KremerI. Out of necessityWe had to walk. This necessity made me happy. I hadn’t been this happy for a long while, I thought. It’s…
Translated from Turkish by Suat Karantay
Courage Does Not Reign
By Perihan Magden
I was kicked out of the Conservatory. When called to the office of the elderly director where I was handed my dismissal papers, I said: “Sir, believe me Sir, I am not concerned for my sake regarding…
Translated from Turkish by Alin Ince
The East with Its Acrid Wind
I came Silent and sad I abandoned myself to the earth My heart was saying Wait Hurry and find a temple But I was too late The shadow of the walls remained But they themselves had gone Sometimes I say…
Translated from Turkish
Wooden Birds
By Asli Erdogan
The door of the room was opened suddenly and a redhead burst in. Dijana’s voice, breathless and impatient, was heard. “Come on now, Felicita! Shall we be waiting for you all day? Get that…
Translated from Turkish by Nebile Direkçgil
Nausea
By Elif Shafak
The street where I live doesn’t know it is not yet another snaky street in Istanbul but in truth some kind of a vessel. We the fortuitous passengers keep this as a secret, divulging it to no one,…
Translated from Turkish by the author
from “Dear Shameless Death”
By Latife Tekin
In memory of my motherHuvat Aktas travelled for a whole day and a night, ending his journey at noon by the sheepfold in the village of Alacuvek. This time he brought a bright blue bus with him. The bus…
Translated from Turkish by Saliha Paker & Mel Kenne
It Hurts To Be Here in This World / I Came To Know It
All the crimson stones on earth Are washed with God's blood. That is why crimson stones Teach us how to be children. When we are children God goes around with us. Touches our earrings And our necklaces.…
Translated from Turkish
from “Ivy”
By Sebnem Isiguzel
1. Accidental ColorsThat winter our lives would become entangled with disasters and iniquities like creeping ivy. While we were unaware of each other’s existence, chance events would bind us together.…
Translated from Turkish by Mary Isin
Women Writers, Islam, and the Ghost of Zulaikha
By Elif Shafak
In the history of Islam, perhaps no woman has been as widely (mis)interpreted as Zulaikha—the beautiful and perfidious wife of Potiphar in the story of Joseph. It was she who tried to seduce Joseph…
Translated from Turkish by Elif Shafak
Women
By Bejan Matur
With their blue tattoosAnd bruises from endless mourningsThey stand still looking at the fireThey all shiver when the wind blowsTheir breasts bend to the earthCarrying burning wood in their handsOld as…
Translated from Turkish by Suat Karantay
Other Destinations
By Domenico Starnone
When I was eight years old I decided to run away from home. There's no sense explaining why right now. Maybe some other time. Let's just say that where I used to live, on via Vincenzo Gemito 64,…
Translated from Italian by Michael F. Moore
from “Lord of the Horns”
By Matthias Politycki
Of course it had to be salsa,which Broschkus detested. In a perfunctory way, he set his legs in motion, more the representation of a dance than the dance itself, he wanted to focus on the silvery toenails…
Translated from German by Susan Bernofsky
The Secret Meanings of Unappreciated Words
By Perihan Magden
Back then I was working at the paper factory. The workers shunned me for having been to such places as Singapore, for wearing black all the time, and for eating my mother's completely tasteless roast…
Translated from Turkish by Cem Yegül
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