My friend Cliff has been raving about Elif Shafak’s The Bastard of Istanbul. “It’s one of the best books I’ve read in years,” he told me. And then in a separate note to a reading group we belong to he called it “an excellent book.” The novel, already a major bestseller in Turkey, just came out in the United States this month. Shafak was due to travel to several cities in the U.S. in support of the novel, but in the wake of Hrant Dink’s murder, she cut her tour down to just one appearance in New York, during which she was also interviewed by Terri Gross for NPR. Of the secular nationalists who attacked her and others, Shafak says:
This group is one of many voices in Turkey. They do not represent the majority of the voices in society, and frankly my opinion is they are targeting intellectuals and writers precisely because they want to stop the E.U. process. They have made it very clear that they are against Turkey’s E.U. membership, and they would like to see the country as a more insular place, a more xenophobic nation-state, a closed society. That’s what they would like to see happening.
You can listen to the interview here.