Monday, September 18, 2006

Turkey--A Tale of Two Novels

One Condemned..

From the Times online:

TURKEY’S faltering hopes of European Union membership look set to be dealt a blow this week when Elif Shafak, one of the leading members of a new generation of Turkish female novelists, faces charges under the country’s draconian restrictions on freedom of speech.
Shafak, 34, is being tried under article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which makes it an offence to insult “Turkishness”. Her alleged crime is that a character in her latest bestselling novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, describes the massacres of Armenians in the late Ottoman Empire as a genocide — an interpretation which, although widely accepted internationally, is still vigorously denied by the Turkish state.
Although other Turks have faced charges for referring to the events of 1915-16 as a genocide, Shafak is the first writer to be prosecuted for words spoken by a character in a work of fiction.

The other a bestseller (even before the current controversy)...

From Hot Air:

Benedict XVI is set to visit Turkey in November, for those looking to descry omens, here’s one that’s not terribly encouraging: A potboiler novel currently on bestseller lists in Turkey titled Papa’ya suikast (”Attack on the Pope”) predicts that Benedict will be assassinated.
Written by novelist YĆ¼cel Kaya, the book is subtitled, “Who will kill Benedict XVI in Istanbul?”
In a little more than 300 pages, Kaya manages to weave the Turkish Secret Service, the infamous Masonic lodge P2, and (of course) Opus Dei into his plot line. Inevitably, Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981, also makes an appearance.
All this might seem comical were it not for the fact that in the last seven months, three Catholic priests have been attacked in Turkey, beginning with the murder of Italian missionary Fr. Andrea Santoro on February 5.