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Elif Shafak: Good at This Writing Thing

February 24, 2011

Agreeing with Elif Shafak is not particularly bold or particularly difficult. She’s an impressive woman, a great writer, and generally seems nice and that. And to be honest, I have not yet read any of her books. Her new Op-Ed in the New York Times is short, sweet, and generally fantastic.

Whenever I have a book signing in Istanbul, I cannot help but notice the diversity of the people. Professional women wearing modern clothes stand in line next to women in head scarves and young men with long hair or piercings. The crowds include leftists, liberals, feminists, Kurds, conservative Muslims, non-Muslims, religious minorities like Alevis, Sufi mystics and so on. But it is not only the variety of people that is striking; it is the extent to which they intermingle. While Turkey’s political system is polarized and male-dominated, the society is, thankfully, far more hybrid. It is this complexity that outsiders fail to recognize, perhaps because they are too busy watching the leading political actors to see the people.

Read it in its entirety, of course.

There’s really very little to add. Politics can be kind of obnoxious and very toxic at times, of course. But there are substantial civil society underpinnings here in Turkey that can’t be ignored.

Again, life is complex here in Turkey. This is not a bad thing, not a good thing, whatever. But it’s good to remember when analysts are concerned about the coming tide of something or another.

Also, it’s good to read books, so do that. And tell me which Shafak novel to read, I’m all ears.

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