In the Turkish Tunnel by Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak

In the Turkish Tunnel


‘When it comes to the misfortunes of nations, we must not forget the dimension of time,’ Milan Kundera said. ‘In a fascist dictatorial state, everyone knows that it will end one day. Everyone looks to the end of the tunnel. In the empire to the East, the tunnel is without end.’ There are many tunnels in many countries but, as Kundera observed, they are of varying lengths, and this makes a considerable difference, ‘at least from the point of view of a human life’. Turkey, my motherland, is one seemingly endless tunnel of political uncertainty. From one year to the next there is little progress in our juvenile democracy, even though no two days are the same.

In Turkey politics speaks louder than art, the state has absolute privilege over the individual and self-censorship is a routine drill in the life of every writer, though we seldom admit it. Words matter in Turkey. Books, though hard to get published, widely pirated and sometimes banned, nonetheless do not

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