Like any journalist worth her salt in today’s Turkey, Ece Temelkuran (伊切•泰玛尔库兰) was once fired for writing copy that the government of the day deemed politically incorrect. Her novels are edgy too, touching on sensitive social and political issues, and as a columnist and a novelist she has built up quite a following at home and abroad. While similarly provocative writing by the PRC’s homegrown authors is actively discouraged in the Xi Jinping Era, China’s publishers have apparently taken a liking to the outspoken Temelkuran, and three of her books are now being translated into Chinese.
Due out within 2016 is Ece Temelkuran’s The Sound of Bananas (香蕉的低语), while the tale of four women on the road from Tunisia to Lebanon, What Good is a Revolution If I Can’t Dance (Düğümlere Üfleyen Kadınlar, at left) – which reportedly sold 120,000 copies in Turkey — is scheduled for early 2017, both from Dookbook (读客图书). Horizon Books (世纪文景), which has a virtual monopoly over Orhan Pamuk’s novels in Chinese on the mainland, has purchased the rights to Temelkuran’s book-length essay exploring what it means to be Turkish, Turkey: The Insane and the Melancholy (Çılgın ve Hüzünlü). It is already out in Taiwan, entitled 我的祖國：憂鬱與瘋狂 , and will be published in the mainland as 我的祖国：土耳其的疯狂与忧愁. She is represented by Istanbul-based Kalem Agency.
In the China context, three books from a contemporary Turkish writer is quite something. Granted, none have hit the bookshelves yet, but when they do, she will join just a handful of authors with several of their books in Chinese, such as Orhan Pamuk, Elif Shafak and Ahmet Ümit.
In an insightful interview with Refinery29 conducted in Istanbul’s trendy Cihangir just a few days ago, Temelkuran tried to explain how she sees her role after the recent failed coup:
What are your hopes for Turkey in the coming weeks?
Maybe because of the things that I have been through I am not a big fan of the word hope. I am more into the word determination. My determination at the moment is to tell the story of Turkey from those people’s point of view who have been dismissed. My mother was imprisoned when she was a Leftist student in the 1971 coup and my father, as a young lawyer, rescued her from the hands of generals. This is the family I was born into. These are decent people, and the story of people like them has not been told. These are people who believed that there could have been a Turkey without political Islam, one with equal and dignified citizens. They dreamed of a country that could break away from the vicious cycle I have been talking about. Generations paid for this dream like in Iran, Iraq, Syria or Lebanon or even in Afghanistan. It is almost like Persepolis – over and over again. My dream right now is just to tell this story.