February 24, 2017
Ulaş Tol joins to discuss his report “Urban Alevism and Young Alevis’ Search for Identity,” written for the PODEM think tank.
Download the episode or listen below.
Turkey Book Talk listeners can get a 33% discount plus free delivery on four titles published by Hurst – “The Circassian: A Life of Eşref Bey, Late Ottoman Insurgent and Special Agent” by Benjamin Fortna, “The New Turkey and its Discontents” by Simon Waldman and Emre Çalışkan, “The Poisoned Well: Empire and its Legacy in the Middle East” by Roger Hardy, and “Out of Nowhere: The Syrian Kurds in Peace and War” by Michael Gunter. Follow this link to get that discount.
Finally, if you enjoy or benefit from the podcast and want to support it, click here to make a donation to Turkey Book Talk via Patreon!
Many thanks to my current supporters Özlem Beyarslan, Steve Bryant, Celia Jocelyn Kerslake and Aaron Ataman.
November 25, 2016
Kaya Genç returns to the Turkey Book Talk podcast. This time he joins to discuss his new book “Under the Shadow: Rage and Revolution in Modern Turkey,” which profiles young Turks from across the political spectrum.
Download the episode or listen below:
My review of the book will be appearing in the next couple of weeks in the Times Literary Supplement so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Here’s the episode from earlier this year with Kaya discussing “An Istanbul Anthology”, which he edited:
NB: If you like this podcast and want to support independent podcasting, click here to make a small or large monetary donation to Turkey Book Talk via Patreon.
Many thanks to current supporters Özlem Beyarslan, Steve Bryant, Celia Jocelyn Kerslake and Aaron Ataman.
October 12, 2016
Özge Samancı talks to Turkey Book Talk about her bestselling graphic memoir “Dare to Disappoint: Growing up in Turkey” (Farrar Straux Giroux). It’s a charming book and everyone I know who has read it raves about it.
Download the podcast episode or listen below.
Here’s my review of the book from a few months ago.
Many thanks to current supporters Özlem Beyarslan, Steve Bryant, Andrew Cruickshank and Aaron Ataman.
August 6, 2016
I’m currently on holiday, but posted below are a couple of things I wrote on the coup attempt and its aftermath.
The view from Taksim Square – Times Literary Supplement.
I also spoke on the TLS podcast about that piece. Listen here (my bit is from 30.22). I wouldn’t have framed the whole thing as the presenters do, but they’re not the only ones who got the balance wrong in the aftermath of the coup, as I describe here:
Turkey and the West are heading for a breakup – War on the Rocks.
I’ll be posting the next Turkey Book Talk podcast in two weeks. Thanks for your patience.
January 9, 2016
Happy New Year!
First Turkey Book Talk pod of the year is with novelist Kaya Genç, the editor of “An Istanbul Anthology” (AUC Press), a new selection of classic writing on Istanbul by classic names including Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.
Happily, I’ve finally picked up a decent mic so the podcasts should now be more listenable. Hooray!
And here’s my review of the book.
February 14, 2015
My review this week was of “The Gardens of Silihdar,” Armenian feminist Zabel Yessayan’s (1878-1943) memoir of growing up in Ottoman Istanbul. Yessayan fled the city in 1915 after being included as the only woman on the Young Turk regime’s list of Armenian intellectuals targeted for detention and deportation. The book was first published in Soviet Armenia in the 1930s, shortly before Yessayan was arrested in Stalin’s purges and exiled to Siberia.
I caught up with translator Jennifer Manoukian to discuss Yessayan’s remarkable life and work. You can read the interview at the Hürriyet Daily News here.
For those interested, both “The Gardens of Silihdar” and Yessayan’s novel “My Soul in Exile” were recently published in English translations by the small press of the Armenian International Women’s Association.
June 13, 2013
One of the saddest aspects of the Turkish government’s response to the Gezi Park protests has been its line that the demonstrations are all a part of a “foreign plot” to bring down Turkey. As with everything else, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fired the starting pistol, singling out the phantom international “interest rate lobby” as being behind the unrest. Since then, leading government figures have been falling over themselves to slander the protests as part of a “foreign conspiracy” by forces “jealous of Turkey’s economic success.” Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said “foreign circles” were trying to “undermine the country’s progress” through the protests: “This is totally an attempt to create a foreign hegemony on Turkey, but we are no fools.” EU Minister Egemen Bağış stated: “It is interesting to have such incidents in Turkey when … economic and development figures are at their best levels. The interest rate lobby and several financial institutions are disturbed by the growth and development of Turkey.” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said a deliberate propaganda operation was being conducted by the international media to tarnish Turkey’s image. Delusional? Yes. Seductive for a sizable portion of the Turkish electorate? Undoubtedly.
Overturning every stone only to find a nefarious foreign plot hidden underneath is one of Turkey’s less attractive national pastimes. Considering the past 200 years of the country’s history, it’s understandable, if not excusable. The current government was supposed to have broken with this paradigm. It had opened the country out to its region – both Europe and the Middle East – and was open-minded about doing business abroad and attracting investment for domestic infrastructure projects. The old embattled Turkish borders seemed to be opening to the world. However, the government’s reaction to the Gezi protests has laid bare all its latent insecurity and resentment, which has been most clear in the verbal attacks on the international coverage of the events. While mainstream domestic media has been brought (almost) completely under the thumb of the authorities, one gets the impression that the AKP’s open anger at the international media is now a kind of reflex action, indicating its frustrated inability to control what is being reported. The BBC must have been exaggerating the scale of the protests, as it wasn’t showing a penguin documentary.
Pro-government news outlets have been keen to assist in framing this paranoid narrative. While it was certainly no secret before, the Gezi protests have exposed the full extent of AKP control over the state news agency, Anadolu Ajansı, which has carried some utterly ridiculous The Onion-like headlines about foreign plots and jealous foreign powers. Pro-government newspapers have also loyally joined in, here’s daily Sabah applauding the aforementioned Anatolia for “sending a missile” to Reuters and CNN, by tweeting that 3G services had been cut in London, preventing them from broadcasting coverage of the police operation on the anti-G8 protests. Which to believe: Reuters or Anadolu Ajansı?
I also feel that this embattled sense is probably compounded by the shock of having international media ask genuinely tough questions of Turkish government representatives. Not only does this surprise AKP figures conditioned to having it easy with domestic journalists, but it also reinforces the sense among many government supporters that the international media is now “out to get” it (and, by extension, bring Turkey down). CNN International’s Christiane Amanpour was criticised by many pro-government Turks, (and praised by many protesters), simply for asking (not unusually) tough questions of Erdoğan’s advisor İbrahim Kalın. In fact, she did nothing out of the ordinary, but it must have been striking for anyone accustomed to toothless “interviews” such as the one conducted by Fatih Altaylı with Erdoğan on June 2.
Still, although they may make no logical sense, countering conspiracy theories with rational facts is a fool’s errand. David Aaronovitch wrote in a recent book on the subject that conspiracists tend to be on the “losing side” and conspiracy theories are mostly an expression of their insecurity; it’s therefore both strange and sad that rumours of “foreign plots” behind Turkey’s protests are being spread by a government that won 50% in the last election.