Turkey, Strasbourg, Iraq discussed on The Guardian Books Podcast
I think they go hand in hand with part of what happened at that. Particular date was the announcement of military intervention in iraq of of course. Do you think that i mean that opened a new era of hostility absolutely because imagine the middle east changing this much again the huge mistakes that were made in iraq and how that changed everything. It's political consequences that even to this day we are experiencing right so i think we need to understand at the past is very important. We need to be able to come to terms with the huge mistakes of the past and maybe we need to understand that the past is still alive. If within the present moment we are living today. I'm so now. Let's talk about the characters <hes>. We've talked a little bit about layla. We don't know much about to. She was born in fan which is a provincial city. Is that just the other end of turkey. The other end of turkey to a poor family and there are lies in her family that all of these characters in some ways are affected by deception dishonesty lies. Yes well. It's it's very patriarca family. Her family and there's polygamy leaker me in the family so in a way she is <hes> raised in a family with two mothers and one father without knowing exactly who is is her biological mother and that's very damaging for her and as you said there are lots of silences there lots of secrets and lies and deceptions and a family love as well affection us world but it's much more complex than not and as she grows up. I think it becomes much harder for her. Because alongside <hes> her father becomes more and more religious he is not only religious he wants to dominate the lives of the people around him he wants to shape their lives and at the time when his own daughter is discovering her individuality trying to find her freedom <hes> understand her own sexuality sexuality because the father is so extremely rigid and religious <hes> the columbus become more obvious within the family so more and more it becomes difficult for her to breathe in in that family and in a in a place like fun where there's very little room for diversity and she runs away way to the big city as characters looking for freedom always have done and in and in the world that she teams up with four other characters three three of whom also from minorities very particular minorities and we've got sign up one to two who comes from a family who they have dwarfism a humira. Who's it's become a cabaret singer and style jalen. How do you pronounce nalen on island. Yeah i pronounce it as nylon was transsexual. Why did you pick these particular picula characters to be have friends and companions well. This is something i have experience in a stumbles so many times is some lissome magnet and it is a city that calls i think there are cities in this world that colas and we follow that call without quite knowing why that's how so i moved to his son will. I didn't grow up in sombor so i moved in my early twenties and i knew i was a late comer as an outsider in a way <hes> when you're an outsider. Maybe appreciate the city even more. You don't take things for granted. Every little thing you research study you pay attention to but at the same time is tumble this a difficult city is the city of scars and it's the city were particularly if you come from a more disadvantaged background if you don't have the same kind of power or privileges you might find life very difficult so there isn't one stumbled you know i always think there are more than that stumbles plural and is stumbled sometimes coexist but often they clash and maybe i want to reflect the complexity of the city nonetheless i i have met over the years while i was living in istanbul. I've actually met people coming from all over the middle east for different reasons but particularly sexual minorities because because to them relatively speaking <hes> issam will felt more free compared to where they came from. There was a little bit more freedom or i've met ethnic snake minorities cultural minorities people were just on the edge of their on the periphery of their own society smiley and now there's another go who's coming with nothing as immigrants yes. Although of course her case is slightly different because we also need to understand that it's tumble over the years has become the crossroads of a sex trade and a six lavery modern-day slavery so these are again very difficult conversations that we are not yet capable of having turkey and oftentimes turkish media. Pretend it's not happening but it is happening so again. There are many layers to the stories in his office tumble and one of the places that these layers reveal themselves salvos in the names people choose for themselves and i was really interested to read that you chose your pet. You constructed a pen name for yourself. Which isn't your birth name but it uses your mother's name that is currently it just explained to me the i wondered if there was something different about the significance of names going on well i think partly because i was raised by two women and maybe my upbringing was a little bit unusual because i was born in france in strasbourg and the first house that i was brought into answer was full of immigrants left students in reading ulta sir. <hes> jump was sought but meet. Maybe not so much simone the you're talking about revolution in smoking goulash. That's how i think about that house in strasbourg in at least in my in my mind but after a while my parents marriage collapsed and my father stayed in strasbourg on my mother brought me to turkey for her. It was motherland for me. It was a new country altogether and from then onwards. I was raised by i two women my mother and my grandmother my mom's very westernized eventually she became very well. Educated very rational secular modern urban urban and my grandma is pretty much the opposite <hes> less educated very wise in her own way very irrational very supportive of women's empowerment and women's education so i think that left a big impact on me the solidarity that i've observed between these two very different women <hes> and i grew up without seeing my father much. Maybe that's part of the reason why i felt like the other in some ways because i knew he was very good father. <hes> he had two other children and he was very good father to them but i could connect with them only much much later in my late twenties so i guess what i'm trying to say is doc might have played an impact but as an author as a storyteller as someone who loved literature they came a moment when i thought i wanted to pen name and and i was looking rather than carrying my father's surname i i wanted to have my own pen name and chose shafak which also happens to be my mother's first us name but the reason one of the reasons why i chose shofar is because it's a gender neutral name. It could be a man's name or women's name. It doesn't have agenda. I found that liberating thing as well and ever since then i've al- news as my son name and it means dawn it means stone which again ties in quite interestingly with your politics of optimism and pessimism sir which underlies this whole book. I wonder how much your optimistic and how much you're pessimist. The worst possible thing happens to leyla but she leaves behind a family is what we take from this the death or is it the friendship yeah i think <hes> even though this is a book that deals with really heavy subjects difficult of subjects finally say i honestly think it's the life affirming book. I honestly think it's a book that celebrates friendships diversity at some point in the book. I talk about well nylon talks about water families and i think in dislike. We have two types of families. We have our blood families. The families were born into an five far blood. Family is loving and caring and kind. That's wonderful. That's a blessing not everyone is as lucky -particularly to those people. The book is saying don't forget as he kept living. You're going to have another family and that's going to be a water family and i think i will to found his are composed of our close friends. The number of those friends can't be dozens and dozens it can only be maybe five or six maximum but these are the people who know us bests and they are the ones who pick us up when we fall down so i think in particularly in countries were the public space is very much dominated by one again one eight narrative and it's difficult to would be different particularly in such societies. These friendships and water fountains become even more important but if i may come back to your question about optimism you know i think i copied too optimistic. I'm turkish is not in my genes gina and i also think if you open the map of europe and if you trace it with your a finger the river danube the blue danube as you move from germany towards the black sea i think the level of optimism drops so by the time you you reach romania bulgaria black sea turkey. We're not very optimistic traditionally probably because of the past the legacies of our histories etc but eventually i think <hes> i am someone who likes very much what graham she what the italian political philosopher graham she used to talk about bob pessimism off the mind and optimism of the will optimism of the heart and i liked combination very much. I think the mind has to be pessimistic so they can hamby more and shop and aware of the dangerous particularly today but the heart has to remain optimistic so that we can appreciate gates our fellow human beings connects with them. Listen to them you know talk to them and not be aloof or not fall into the trap of anger or apathy apathy. That's why i like graham. She's combination. When you notice was first published they were translated from turkish into english. Neither been translated from english into turkish. Is that what you're actually writing them. In english. I mean we're we're all aware of you from the busted stampa which was long listed for the orange prize but more recently since then forty russillo love so seven hundred fifty thousand copies in turkey your massive turkish authors well as an angel for but you are now pretty much dan. You can't go back to turkey. What does that mean to you. Well took it. It's it's very complex because while you might be <hes> attacked slandered by the elite cultural and political elite in turkey at the same time you might experience a very hot warming relationship with the raiders so i always make that distinction you know i make a distinction between the government and the people and i think the tragedy of countries such as my motherland is that <hes> the people in these societies civil societies are far ahead of their governments but they lacked the power to change those governments so it is very clear that as turkey became as the government became more authoritarian. It became harder and harder to deal with words anyone on who deals with words whether you're a writer a poet an academic journalist particularly. It's much more difficult for journalists today. Journalists mr most difficult profession in turkey okay and i really have a lot of respect for people who are trying to do their job properly. Nasional took has become the world's biggest jailer of journalists but i think think anyone who deals with words knows that because.