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What Unites Us: Turkish Short Stories

October 2017

Serkan Özkaya, Proletarier Aller Länder, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

Image: Serkan Özkaya, Proletarier Aller Länder, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

This month we bring you short stories from Turkey. As the country struggles with polarization and instability, the six writers here demonstrate the unifying power of literature in the face of political upheaval and divisions. Yalçın Tosun’s lonely teenaged boys find their routine, and possibly their lives, upended. Deniz Tarsus channels the victims and survivors of an infamous disaster. Behçet Çelik tempts fate by heading out under curfew. Emrah Serbes observes a martyr’s younger brother turned (hapless) terrorist hunter. Karin Karakaşlı reveals the personal side of the political divide between Turks and Armenians. And Sine Ergün’s young man discovers a secret world in a most unlikely place.  From Istanbul, the writer Elliot Ackerman contributes an insightful overview.

The Importance of Stories in an Era of Division
By Elliot Ackerman
With much of our world deeply divided, stories such as these become more essential than ever to ease our collective pessimism.
Muzaffer and Bananas
By Yalçın Tosun
We were both quite fat, but Ali’s body carried more promise than mine.
Translated from Turkish by Abby Comstock-Gay
The Canary
By Deniz Tarsus
Every night before they went to sleep, the people of the village imagined their own deaths.
Translated from Turkish by Ayça Türkoğlu
All the Streets of the City
By Behçet Çelik
“From here on out it’s rooftop to rooftop, hocam.”
Translated from Turkish by Abby Comstock-Gay
The Terrorist Upstairs
By Emrah Serbes
“I’m twelve years old, I won’t have to do a lot of time, I’ll be out before you know it.”
Translated from Turkish by Abigail Bowman