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Women on the Verge (of European Union)

December 2005

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.