I finished this novel last week. What a shame! Considering it was published in 1992. I try to follow Turkish literature closely but I have this personal problem. When everybody is talking about a book, recommending or suggesting, I develop this enemity against the book. I hardly get it and read it. I have been hearing İhsan Oktay Anar’s book for long. But as it happens to me with some popular books I somehow resisted reading it.
I owe an apology since I read it and I found the book amazing. Unfortunately I found out from a valuable Turkish translator’s website that the book has not been translated into English yet. If this info is still up to date, I think some publishers owe apologies to this book as well!
The book is settled in 17th Century Ottoman Empire. We follow dreams of a man called Uzun İhsan throughout the book. His story takes us different parts of the city, different social groups and their lives and a unique philosophy of life presented and pursued by some of the characters. Author, İhsan Oktay Anar is a philosophy professor, you feel it in every aspect of the book. However, you feel it in a nice way not as a stick in your eye. You follow, question, try to answer but not in a boring way but in a sweet and enjoyable way. As a sociologist myself, I can definitely say as sociologists and philosophers we know how to push people to boredom when we write or talk. Luckily this book is on the brilliant side: Telling you a philosophical and historical story in a intelligent and efficient way instead of trying to convince you to a certain truth.
Once more, I should say that this book should be translated into English or any other languages. It would be a must read for people who like historical, philosophical novels with a strong fictional base.
Writing a final paper or essay might be frightening for most of you.
In this piece I will try to summarize how you can make writing an essay easier.
This piece is a simplified introduction for beginners intended to help my students for a specific class. So different parts of this piece might be irrelevant to readers who are planning to write essays for different classes or purposes.
Step 1. Deciding your topic:
Chose one of the topics among our previous class discussions such as migration, women in Turkey, nationalism etc. After choosing this general topic you have to cut it down into a smaller topic: “Problems faced by women accessing equal job opportunities in Turkey” or “current debates in Turkey regarding Syrian refugees” or “rise of Kurdish question during early years of Republic in Turkey” etc.
When you cut down your topic in small parts you will realize you might find it easier to focus on couple of aspects of your new topic. Let’s follow one of the above mentioned topics to make an example:
“Current debates in Turkey regarding Syrian refugees”
Although being cut down, this topic still includes many aspects such as:
Problems faced by Syrian Refugees
Issues faced by Turkish host community
Government’s response to refugee issue
As you see these different topics can be a issue of an essay by themselves. However since you will be writing a general discussion for our class you might want to touch upon all these issues referencing our class readings and additional research.
All of these topics now can be among your discussion and among your different paragraphs.
Step 2. Introduction
In the first paragraphs of your essay you are expected to state a research question.
Which question or questions will you be trying to answer in your paper?
Following the above mentioned example we can formulate a RQ as follows:
“What are the current debates in Turkey regarding Syrian refugees?”
Regarding your own topic you are expected to write down a research question in your first paragraphs. And following statement of the RQ you are also expected to how you are going to discuss these research question.
E.g. I will focus on common problems faced by Syrian refugees in Turkey, possible solutions as well as Turkish community’s reaction to them. I will refer to data and previous studies throughout my essay…
Step 3. Introducing your argument
Argument is a claim that you state when starting introducing your topic.
After stating the issues that you are going to discuss you have to make certain arguments about your paper. This might be a open end argument at the beginning however, when you continue researching, reading and writing, you will certainly realize you will have some ideas about the topics. These ideas can be called as arguments. Your research might prove that your argument at the beginning was wrong. You might discuss this aspect in your conclusion part.
Eg. I argue that problems faced by Syrian are mainly caused by economic deficits and unemployment. / OR …because of host government’s inefficient efforts…
When you summarized your discussion topics and arguments, you might start your discussion.
Describing the major concepts and topics might be a good start after giving your arguments.
Step 4. Development of your essay.
Development is the largest part of the essay. Since you have stated the different aspects that you will be discussing in your essay, now you can start introducing these aspects to your reader. In this part, you are expected to write all the information you gathered from articles, books or websites on the different aspects of the issue. You are also expected to detail the background of your points that you are discussing. In this part, you might need different sub-titles to make your discussion points clearer.
E.g. These are the issues that you will discuss.
Problems faced by Syrian Refugees
Main problems and background about these problems
Issues faced by Turkish host community
What are the issues that the host community raising?
Background and development of different tensions between refugees and host community
If so, changing reactions by the host community.
Government’s response to the refugee issue
Background of government’s response
How do you evaluate the response?
Step 5. Referencing
While explaining different aspects of your discussion you are expected to refer to different resources that you found in class discussions. You might find further resources among your class readings’ bibliographies.
Refer to Data that you found about these problems
Refer to Articles and books that you read about these problems
Refer to Websites or news that you read about these problems
Step 6. Conclusion
In the conclusion part, you are expected to discuss what did you find about your topic? What is new? And does your findings match with your arguments? Any surprising facts? Or any comments that you want to make about the topic. All these issues are expected to be discussed in the conclusion part. Conclusion is also the part that you share your opinion about the topic and make concluding remarks.
Reading new authors makes me excited every time. It is like first date: Is she/he going to like me? Am I going to like her /him? I started reading Ferrante’s novel with these feelings. I am sympathetic to Italian life. I have the feeling that they are kinda close to our Turkish living. Cosy kitchens, strong family relations and trespassing individuals’ lives all the time having no idea of individual space. I think I was right about my stereotypical approach towards Italians. And of course there is this unseen tie between all social classes of the world. More or less same problems, same expectations from life and same disappointments.
Ferrante seemingly tells the story of two girls Lina and Lila. However, beyond these girls amazing imagination and survival strategies towards life you see Italian working class way of life. Poor neighbourhoods and increasing estrangement of young people from their families especially thanks to education. Similarly in Turkey education is still the major tool for social mobilisation. Estrangement from old habits, families and poor and ugly neighbourhoods is inevitable for educated young people.
This story somehow touched my heart because I had a more or less similar friendship. I am coming from a working class family too. My childhood friend and I always dreamed of being writers. She stopped school after high school and got married in couple of years later. I continued my education that I became a PhD finally. Invisible distance between us increased in years. She wrote an unpublished young adult novel couple of years ago which I did not quite admired.
When I read Ferrante’s novel, I remembered all these timeline. I had this awkward movements when you feel like someone spied on your life. I do not think I need to say more about how beautifully written this novel is. It gave me that bitter sour feeling but I loved it.
When I reviewed my previous posts I remembered that I promised to update my blog with romantic autumn pics from Vilnius. And I realised that I see a white beautiful snowy winter from my window near Neris. However, as I guessed, autumn was like reading a beautiful story in Vilno. It was yellow, red, dark and light. All in once. That’s why I am sharing these photos.
As far as I read from some friends’ posts there is a huge debate going on in social media about accepting refugees and fear of terrorism. Having written my phd on migration and asylum issues I wanted to share some helpful remarks with friends who are interested in hearing facts and data results from some research not just rumours.
First of all let me explain what a refugee is… To be accepted in a country as a refugee there are certain legal requirements such as running away from war, fear of death or fear of unjust treatment, torture, execution etc. Syrians in this case meet all of the requirements (just imagine, we are afraid of ISIS in Europe. Think about Syrians, ISIS comes to their neighbourhood and drag them out. Does not it seem like a just cause for flight and apply for asylum?)
Second, around 800,000 refugees entered into Europe last year. Turkey currently hosts more than 2 million Syrians. Consider this: One terrorist sneaked into Europe among all these people and we try to blame them all. This again sounds just unthoughtful. What if Syrians look at us and say “Why do you keep sending our country jihadists?” Currently there are thousands of terrorists in ISIS who are of Western origin. What would be our answer?
Lastly, let’s just face it: all our countries have blood in their hands about what is happenning in Syria or Middle East now. This gigantic human misery is just one aspect of how politics can ruin people’s lives. So you’d better try to understand why we should share the burden.
Please check the following graph that gives a clear picture of religiously motivated terrorism in Europe and please stop washing our hands clean saying: “Oh Islamists again!”
Late in the last week I started reading The Herbalist.
I noted this book to my to read list (actually this is my non-existent mental list. I just fav some tweets or add anything interesting to read button on my computer unfortunately not to return soon) when I read Niamh Boyce’s interview on Booksbywomen website. Something got me. She was telling about how she wrote the book inspired by a news piece in an old newspaper when she was 19. She says she started thinking about this news piece after 20 years later that was covering a herbalist who lived in the 1930s Ireland.
These details stuck in my mind. After months later I finally bought a Kindle version of the book and started reading. I should say it got me from the first sentence. Although it has a literature taste that makes it a bit complicated for me to understand the idioms sometimes, still I can recommend it whole heartedly.
The purpose of research is to bring the book to life, not to weight it down. A novel should feel immediate, even if it’s set in the past.