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October 2008

Turkish Delights

We join the publishing world in a salute to Turkey, the guest of honor at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair and the center of our attention this month. At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, this ancient country blends Balkan, Arabic, and Persian influences in a rich and vibrant culture as sprawling and diverse as the landscape itself. Come explore these plural identities with Asli Erdogan, Seyhan Erözçelik, Müge İplikçi, Küçük Iskender, Yaşar Kemal, Birhan Keskin, Murathan Mungan, and Sevgi Soysal, and listen in to a wide-ranging conversation between Claire Messud and Buket Uzuner. A tip of the fez to Levent Yilmaz, the most charming and brilliant Turkish-French-Italian publisher in the world, for sending these Anatolian treats our way.

In Conversation
By Claire Messud
Buket Uzuner: I met Claire Messud in Istanbul in November 2007 while she was visiting the city as one of the guest writers of the Istanbul Book Fair. A week before I met her, I started to read her very…
Pesach Eve
I cleaned the house top to bottom. In all the years' corners dusted life's stray leaves. Polished the proud candlesticks of numberless Sabbaths, the kiddush cups and the Seder plate— gifts…
Translated from Yiddish
Maag & Minetti: City Stories
By Keller + Kuhn
Dreams Minetti One morning Maag wakes up with the idea to develop a search engine with which one finds what does not yet exist, dreams Minetti.Thinks Maag Minetti would say the problem was solely the…
Translated from German by Alison Gallup
Sorting Laundry
Clean laundry bleached dried piled everywhere. We shake out silently a shirt a sock underwear. Laid out nicely smooth and square nimble hands side by side. The pile is gone. Between us grows a tidy clean…
Translated from Yiddish
Coffee Grinds
By Seyhan Erözçelik
“In our house lilies, roses, magnolias, jasmines are blooming, while you are reading fortunes, while I am watching, while I am reading fortunes, while you are watching.”1 People hold hands…
Translated from Turkish by Murat Nemet-Nejat
An illustration of a girl in a red and white tutu standing on the back of a white horse in front...
Popular Graphic Arts, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Tante Rosa, Would-be Horse Acrobat
By Sevgi Soysal
Rosa would no longer be falling off of horses. Instead, she would bag the manure of the circus animals and sell it to villagers.
Translated from Turkish by Amy Spangler
One Hundred and One Minutes . . .
By Ekaterina Taratuta
. . . of sitting around the table and talking of voyages to faraway lands and strange events,—of how it all is, and how it may be, and how it always is, and, then again, infrequently; of secret plots…
Translated from Russian by Anna Barker
Pass through me, I'll remain, I'll wait, pass through me, but where you pass through me I cannot know. I was told, there's a ripe fruit behind the curtain of patience, the world will teach…
Translated from Turkish
The Train
By Murathan Mungan
Some weekends my parents and I went from Mardin to Syria and stayed in Kamışlı, the town nearest to the Turkish border. Although it was a town, I compared Kamışlı, with its wide, well-kept roads, its…
Translated from Turkish by Ruth Christie
The Hidden Me
Here is the photograph. It was taken on the day my father came out of the Diyarbakır Prison. A huge convoy of hundreds was already at the Kızıltepe entrance and cut off my father's…
Translated from Turkish
I bought you a lampshade today just the tip of my mind baltimore or an open-doored green Chevrolet, registered a masterpiece sacrifice is the tape you play wayward toward the shore all around us angelhoods,…
Translated from Turkish
from “Harbinger”
By Müge Iplikçi
when yıldız was a little girl, big letters were always a problem for her. also the big ideas written in big letters. from the very beginning some people said that it was a disorder. for example, when…
Translated from Turkish by Esen Köybaşi
The Prisoner
By Asli Erdogan
She woke up long before the alarm. As though wanting to make sure the night was over, she blinked for a while in the dawn. She’d slept a total of three hours, but the night, full of tossing and…
Translated from Turkish by Deniz Perin
The roads I walked didn't tire me, the plans I formed to kill myself didn't work, I did not diminish one bit, I did not increase I forgot the night I died in your nakedness. I found myself like…
Translated from Turkish
By Birhan Keskin
I won’t talk anymore, I won’t say harsh words in the morning for a dream I embroider a flower of pearl on my bosom.I never knew, what you understood from my words, I spoke the forest’s…
Translated from Turkish by George Messo
Story of an Island
By Yaşar Kemal
And in the desert between the two rivers the battle which had been going on for many days continued. Day and night the whole desert was filled with the intermingled sounds of cannon and machine-gun fire,…
Translated from Turkish by Angela Roome