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Turkey Book Talk episode #52 – LORA SARI on the Aras Publishing House, set up in Istanbul in 1993 as a “window onto Armenian literature.” We also discuss Mıgırdıç Margosyan’s “Infidel Quarter,” published this year as Aras’ first English-language title.

Download the episode or listen below.

Here’s my review of “Infidel Quarter” at HDN.

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Aras-Yayincilik

Extras

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* SPECIAL OFFER *

You can support Turkey Book Talk by taking advantage of a 33% discount plus free delivery (cheaper than Amazon) on five different titles, courtesy of Hurst Publishers:

  • ‘Jihad and Death: The Global Appeal of Islamic State’ by Olivier Roy
  • ‘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
  • ‘Out of Nowhere: The Syrian Kurds in Peace and War’ by Michael Gunter

Follow this link to get that discount from Hurst Publishers.

Another way to support the podcast, if you enjoy or benefit from it: Make a pledge to Turkey Book Talk via Patreon. Many thanks to current supporters Michelle Zimmer, Steve Bryant, Jan-Markus Vömel, Celia Jocelyn Kerslake, Aaron Ataman, Max Hoffman, Andrew MacDowall, Paul Levin and Tan Tunalı.

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Turkey Book Talk episode #47 – CENK ÖZBAY on his book “QUEERING SEXUALITIES IN TURKEY: GAY MEN, MALE PROSTITUTES AND THE CITY” (IB Tauris).

The book delves into the murky world of male prostitution in Turkey in the 2000s, which allowed Özbay to explore assumptions about class, local and global culture, and masculine behavior. In the conversation we also address the troubled state of LGBT rights in Turkey at the moment and the general trajectory of the country over the past 15 or so years.

Download the episode or listen below.

Keep your ears peeled for two music clips – The first (after 10:23) is “Çile Bülbülüm” performed by Bülent Ersoy. The second (after 20:42) is “İmkansız” performed by Zeki Müren

Here’s my review of the book at HDN.

Subscribe to Turkey Book Talk :  iTunes / PodBean / Stitcher / Acast / RSS

Follow on Facebook or Twitter

Ozbay

A piece I wrote a couple of years ago for Balkanist – LGBT Crackdown in Turkey: The Perils of Visibility

* DON’T FORGET SPECIAL OFFER *

You can support Turkey Book Talk by taking advantage of a 33% discount plus free delivery (cheaper than Amazon) on five different titles, courtesy of Hurst Publishers:

  • ‘Jihad and Death: The Global Appeal of Islamic State’ by Olivier Roy
  • ‘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
  • ‘Out of Nowhere: The Syrian Kurds in Peace and War’ by Michael Gunter

Follow this link to get that discount from Hurst Publishers.

Another way to support the podcast, if you enjoy or benefit from it: Make a pledge to Turkey Book Talk via Patreon. Many thanks to current supporters Michelle Zimmer, Steve Bryant, Jan-Markus Vömel, Celia Jocelyn Kerslake, Aaron Ataman, Max Hoffman, Andrew MacDowall and Paul Levin.

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.

Subscribe to Turkey Book Talk :  iTunes / PodBean / Stitcher / Acast / RSS

Follow on Facebook or Twitter.

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Download the report for free in English or in Turkish.

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.

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:

Subscribe to Turkey Book Talk :  iTunes / PodBean / Stitcher / Facebook / RSS

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:

under-the-shadow

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.

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!

Download the podcast.

Listen/subscribe via Podbean.

Here’s text of interview at the Hürriyet Daily News.

And here’s my review of the book.

An Istanbul Anthology

Follow Kaya Genç on Twitter.

Subscribe to the Turkey Book Talk podcast via iTunes or PodBean.

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.

Read my review of “The Gardens of Silihdar” 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.

By now, the basics are well known. The mainstream Turkish media was found to be woefully inadequate when it came to reporting the enormous anti-government protests that recently erupted across the country. As Turks took to the streets to confront ruthless security forces armed with gallons of tear gas, pressurized water, tanks and batons, those still at home turned to TV news stations only to find nature documentaries and panel shows discussing liposuction.

It’s fair to say that the protests still ongoing across Turkey have not been the Turkish media’s finest hour. In fact, these events – perhaps more than any previously – have exposed for domestic and international observers just how compromised the Turkish media has become. (As many have observed, this comes with a bitter taste for Kurds, who ask why many now protesting did little when the Kurds were complaining about scant media coverage of their own troubles.) Ironically enough, the lack of TV coverage appears only to have inspired more protests. According to a Bilgi University survey among 3,000 young Gezi Park protesters, 84% cited muted media coverage as one of the main reasons for taking to the streets. This also explains the graffiti around Istanbul lambasting the “sold-out” media, the satirical memes circulating like wildfire on the internet, and the NTV broadcast van trashed and overturned in the middle of Taksim Square.

As is now well documented, where mainstream media failed, social media stepped in. It is estimated that more than 3,000 tweets per minute were sent about the protests after midnight on May 31; Twitter hashtags telling the Turkish media to do its job were trending worldwide, while CNN Türk was airing a documentary about penguins. This also resulted in large demonstrations being organised outside the Habertürk and NTV offices in the following days, which, in a grim irony, NTV ended up reporting on.

Indeed, Twitter became the only place to go to for information (and disinformation) as events unfolded; exposing the enormous chasm that now exists between independent new media and the toothless media corporations in Turkey. While this was no real revelation, (the same happened after the Uludere/Roboski massacre in December 2011, when live tweeters at the scene bypassed and shamed the established media groups), the scale of the awareness that the latest events stirred is unprecedented. Reflecting the government’s frustration at being unable to do much about what gets posted online, Erdoğan described social media as a “trouble” full of “unmitigated lies” (if he was referring to the deluded Twitter ramblings of Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek he may have had a point). One day later, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arınç declared that the government “could have shut down Internet access, but didn’t.” Still, there were other ways for the government to make its point, as 33 protesters were detained in the western city of İzmir for tweets they had posted.

CNN International shows live coverage of the demonstrations in Taksim Square, while CNN Türk airs a penguin documentary.

CNN International shows live coverage of the demonstrations in Taksim Square, while CNN Türk airs a penguin documentary.

Turkey-watchers are familiar with the country’s chronic press freedom problems. One of the root causes is related to the ownership structures of Turkish media companies, which opens them up to political pressure, an issue that Yavuz Baydar repeatedly – and convincingly – returns to. One small example of this which I didn’t see anyone else pick up on came with a report, released in April, by respected think-tank the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV), titled “Policy Suggestions for Free and Independent Media in Turkey.” The report was thorough and fair, particularly focusing on the crippling conflict of interest that comes when major media outlets are owned by large holding companies involved in other sectors. Although the report was covered by the Gülen-affiliated Zaman newspapers, no newspapers from the Doğan Media Group (owned by billionaire Aydın Doğan – perhaps Exhibit A of the above problem) – Hürriyet, its English language arm Hürriyet Daily News, or Radikal – mentioned it.

With the large media companies so obviously unfit to perform their Fourth Estate function, the focus is shifting to new online independent media. Along with the agenda-setting Twitter, the website T24 has also developed quite a reputation in providing brave, reliable, independent reporting. Veteran journalist Hasan Cemal, for example, after being controversially fired by daily Milliyet, was taken on by T24 and has since written a series of articles based on time spent with the retreating Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels in southeast Turkey, including an interview with military head of the PKK, Murat Karayılan. The Demirören Holding-owned Milliyet would not touch such a daring project. Freely-available online and with little advertising, I’m not sure how T24 is actually funded (if anybody does, please do let me know), or whether it’s a viable long-term model for more serious journalism in Turkey, bypassing the established news organisations. Still, with mainstream media having so thoroughly discredited itself throughout the Gezi Park protests, the void will have to be filled by something if Turkey is to become more democratic.

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