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December 2005

Women on the Verge (of European Union)


Guest Editor Levent Yilmaz,

The women of Turkey are on the front lines of proverbial conflicts between East and West, tradition and modernity, spirituality and fundamentalism. Good thing they have such a great sense of humor. An extravagant sense of the absurd characterizes Perihan Magden's picaresque encounters with an elegant dwarf and a bejeweled monkey in "Courage Does Not Reign" and her hilarious jousting with language in "The Secret Meanings of Unappreciated Words." Fantasy, expectation, memory and elusive reality trade places in Sebnem Isiguzel's "Real Life for the Last Scene of a Movie," while in her "Ivy" a painter battles color blindness.

Asli Erdogan's "Wooden Birds" pursues sanatorium inmates as they commune with nature and a collegiate rowing team. Letife Tekin depicts villagers caught between superstition and modern conveniences in "Dear Shameless Death." Bejan Matur's poems speak to time and illusions. And Elif Shafak explores religious tension and sensuality both in a work of fiction, "Nausea," and a marvelous essay, "Women Writers, Islam, and the Ghost of Zulaikha." We thank Levent Yilmaz, very probably the most charming and brilliant Turkish-French-Italian publisher in the world (visit his new small press, Galaade Editions), for bringing together this extraordinary literary harem of writers with irony and vitality to burn.

Courage Does Not Reign

I was kicked out of the Conservatory. When called to the office of the elderly director where I was handed my dismissal papers, I said: "Sir, believe me Sir, I am not concerned for my sake

The Secret Meanings of Unappreciated Words

Back then I was working at the paper factory. The workers shunned me for having been to such places as Singapore, for wearing black all the time, and for eating my mother's completely

Fragments from “Real Life for the Last Scene of a Movie”

"Nothing can be more important than love." --Gidon Kremer I. Out of necessity We had to walk. This necessity made me happy. I hadn't been this happy for a long while, I thought.

from “Ivy”

1. Accidental Colors That winter our lives would become entangled with disasters and iniquities like creeping ivy. While we were unaware of each other's existence, chance events would

Wooden Birds

The door of the room was opened suddenly and a redhead burst in. Dijana's voice, breathless and impatient, was heard. "Come on now, Felicita! Shall we be waiting for you all day? Get

from “Dear Shameless Death”

In memory of my mother Huvat Aktas travelled for a whole day and a night, ending his journey at noon by the sheepfold in the village of Alacuvek. This time he brought a bright blue bus

Time and Illusion

Flying into the field of clouds With the taste of sun and water There is no night out there Night does not fall in the distance A silver cage around my neck Like an unfaithful


The street where I live doesn't know it is not yet another snaky street in Istanbul but in truth some kind of a vessel. We the fortuitous passengers keep this as a secret, divulging it

Women Writers, Islam, and the Ghost of Zulaikha

The irony in hastily modernized Muslim countries like Turkey is that the cultural elites have lost their connections with old traditions of erotic storytelling.


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