Shafak says that she did not set out to deal
with big macro-political questions in The Bastard of Istanbul
Instead, her aim was quite the opposite - to "probe the simple
and basic ingredients in the everyday life of Armenian and
Turkish women" to find their commonalities.
"I am a novelist. When I write, I don't
calculate the consequences of what I'm writing. I just surround
myself with the story."
That maybe so, but The Bastard of Istanbul
unleashed quite a backlash in her native Turkey, achieving the
dubious honor of becoming the first fictional work to be tried
under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code which prohibits
"public denigration of Turkishness". Other fictional books, such
as Orhan Pamuk's
Snow have been threatened with...
Beyond the Book
At its height the Ottoman Empire
which had its capital in Istanbul
(formerly Constantinople), spanned three
continents, controlling much of
Southeastern Europe, the Middle East and
North Africa, and was at the center of
interactions between the Eastern and
Western worlds for about 600 years.
The "golden age" of the Empire was in
the 16th Century during the reign of
Suleiman the Magnificent. It was the
only Islamic power to seriously
challenge the rising power of Western
Europe from the Renaissance onwards. The
Empire steadily declined during the 19th
century and collapsed in the wake...