Alphabet Soup

Before Ataturk the written language in Turkey was Ottoman. It was an ornate language, using the Arabic script, which didn’t fit the phonetics of the language, and borrowed heavily from Arabic and Persian. It did not coincide with the language spoken across Anatolia, which was reasonably similar to Turkish. The effect was to divide the people into the majority who were illiterate and a minority elite who knew how to read and write. Turkish was something looked down upon; it Click for more


  Review of ‘Sadakat’ by Inci Aral Turkuvaz Kitap 2009 This is a subtle and disturbing book. It starts with Azra (name meaning ‘virginal, untouched’) writing a journal from her communal prison cell. She is in prison awaiting the results of a post mortem on her husband’s body, accused of murdering him. She details her seven-year relationship with Ferda (name meaning ‘tomorrow’ or ‘Judgement Day’), their attraction, their arguments and fights. Their relationship is fraught; he can be irritable and Click for more

Book Fairs Galore…

Last week saw Canakkale’s 1st International Book Fair, held in the Megaron Conference centre in the Kolin Hotel. The book fair consisted of one book shop from downtown, a few publishers, foundations and local authors. On the day I visited the international was provided by a stand apparently run by the Cuban tourist board (there was no one on the stand to ask). Still it’s a start and hopefully next year will see a bigger and better book fair. From Click for more

Translation Day

Over the summer I came across a competition which I felt compelled to enter. It was to translate one or more prose pieces or one or more poems from Turkish into English. Though I’d never attempted literary translation and had only been doing technical translation (of academic papers) for six months I thought I’d give it a go. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the challenge of the actual translation and of shaping it into a piece Click for more

Fish Flops

This book was an impulse buy when the kids dragged me into a bookshop (ok who am I kidding, myself and the Brown-Eyed Girl dragged Little Boy Blue). While they searched in the children’s section I scanned the shelves. Interestingly the books were arranged by author, not genre, so my search for a novel was complicated by the fact that Buket Uzuner has written travel memoirs and essays. This book was most definitely a novel with a rather strange picture Click for more

Changing My Viewpoint

A while back I realised that I had an attitude problem. It wasn’t immediately noticeable to everyone, in fact for the most part, nobody knew. But I knew and it was eating me up inside. This attitude was one that is probably not uncommon in expats. It’s a negative view of the country you live in, a pessimism that colours your view of everyone and everything. For a short-term expat this leads to a lot of comparisons with how things Click for more