Some Writers Just Don’t Fit In

elifshafak.jpgMariane Pearl, wife of assassinated WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl, has written a story for Glamour magazine on novelist Elif Shafak, who is a lightning rod of controversy in Turkey. Pearl writes:

At the relatively young age of 36, Elif has written six novels. “I give a voice to the underbelly of society,” she says. Her first book, Pinhan—The Sufi, tells the story of a hermaphrodite mystic. Her most recent novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, published in 2006, was a best-seller…[and she is on] the hit list of writers targeted by far-right groups. Its offense? Tackling Turkey’s unspeakable World War I-era massacre of a million of its Armenian residents. Turkey does not officially acknowledge the slaughter, which is often called the first genocide of the twentieth century. Yet one of Elif’s characters, speaking on behalf of a young Armenian American, boldly says: “I am the grandchild of genocide survivors who lost all their relatives in the hands of Turkish butchers in 1915, but I myself have been brainwashed to deny the genocide….”

Elif just wanted to “build a bridge between Turks and Armenians,” she says, but for the latter to forgive, the former must stop denying.(source)

In other fringe literary news, the Guardian reported this week that newly declassified files demonstrate that the British government feared that George Orwell was subversive because of his fashion-sense (hipster beware!):

A Sergeant Ewing of Special Branch, monitoring Orwell’s attempt to recruit Indians to work for the BBC’s India service in January 1942, noted: “This man has advanced communist views … He dresses in a bohemian fashion both at his office and in his leisure hours.” (source)

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