Ten or fifteen years ago, a title like this probably wouldn’t have appeared. The idea of Faber publishing a book on Turkey for a general audience only makes sense after a decade during which the country has risen steadily in international visibility and is now the focus of considerable political, economic and cultural attention. Alev Scott is a British Turk whose heritage drew her back to Istanbul after graduating from university in 2009. She lives and teaches in the city and has written on Turkey over the last few years. Her rather broad intention in Turkish Awakening is ‘to understand what it means to be Turkish’. Tackling such a complex country is difficult in 300 pages, but Scott is a likeable guide, able to provide a nugget of interest on every page for the outsider and food for thought for the more wizened Turkey-watcher.
Scott uses twelve chapters to cover the most knotty social and political issues facing the country, drawing heavily on her travels and intuitions. She has something of interest to say on almost everything she addresses: Turkey’s perennial division between the secular and the religious, the troubled education system, the position