Books
Luke Frostick writes: Few maps are more powerful for some and controversial for others than the map of greater Kurdistan. In her new book Mapping Kurdistan: Territory, Self-Determination and Nationalism, Zeynep Kaya demonstrates how the map of Kurdistan was developed and how it became a symbol and a tool.
Luke Frostick writes: Ayfer Tunç’s newly translated book The Highly Unreliable History of A Madhouse is a novel that is humorous, tragic, profound, epic in scale as well as intimate. However, it is not an easy read. Still, working my way through it was rewarding for its humor and the diverse cross-section of Turkish society that it captures.
Luke Frostick writes: Edanur Kuntman’s Tales from Behind the Window has been nominated for an Eisner Award. If she wins, she will be the first Turk to win an Eisner. The story is a piece of creative-nonfiction and its main narrative is drawn from the memories of Kuntman’s grandmother growing up in the Çarşamba district of Samsun.
Luke Frostick writes: While I was reading The Struggle for Modern Turkey, the word I keep coming back to to describe Sabiha Sertel was badass. Throughout her life she showed a real commitment towards her ideals and an unwillingness to compromise that would see her tried numerous times, nearly lynched, imprisoned and eventually forced to flee.
Luke Frostick writes: In her new book Precarious Hope, Ayşe Parla focuses on the experience of Bulgarian Turks. They are the only undocumented group in Turkey that gets regular amnesties. A sense of privilege they feel compared to other economic migrants is identified in Parla's book. However, they are still vulnerable to exploitation by the state.
Luke Frostick writes: Using the innocence of animals to show the absurdity and cruelty of human society is nothing new in literature. However, Kemal Varol proves that it is still a powerful device in his newly translated book Wûf, a story of the 1990s conflict in southeastern Turkey.
Luke Frostick writes: The origin story of the Republic of Turkey is well known. Out of the battered husk of the Ottoman Empire, the brilliant general Mustafa Kemal forges a new Turkish nation with republican, secular and modernist ideas at its core. Ryan Gingeras' new book Eternal Dawn tells a more confusing, murky and interesting version of this history.
Luke Frostick writes: Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu is one of Turkey’s great early novelists. He witnessed the end of the Ottoman Empire, the formation of the Republic of Turkey and played an active role in those turbulent times as a journalist and politician in addition to his literary career. Now available in English, his book Stepmother Earth is a masterful depiction of those eras.
Luke Frostick writes: 2048 by Emre Sayer bills itself as a futuristic novel that connects business, love, culture, technology and society into one cohesive whole. Yet it falls flat in numerous ways. A critique of this novel must start with the translation. It’s bad, really bad.
Luke Frostick writes: As secretary to the sultan, Uşaklıgil had a ringside seat to many of the political machinations and crises of the day. In this collection of writings, Uşaklıgil is more interested in the daily business of the palace and the people he meets there. Special credit should be given to the translator Douglas Scott Brookes. Translating such an important writer as Halid Ziya Uşaklıgil is a hard job at the best of times and doing it from Ottoman Turkish more so.
Luke Frostick writes: İşigüzel's "The Girl in the Tree" recounts the story of young woman who, in a moment of crisis and personal tragedy, flees from Cihangir to Gülhane Park, and spends the rest of her life atop trees. From her perch, she tells us her story and that of three generations of women living in Cihangir.
Luke Frostick writes: Erdoğan Rising takes us through all the critical moments of Turkey's recent history, from the Gezi Park protests to the coup attempt and the 2018 election. Smith caters to readers that aren't experts on Turkey but provides enough detail to capture those readers that are invested in the country.
Luke Frostick writes: Turkey's foreign policy is in a muddle. Turkey's relationship with its NATO allies is strained to the point of crumbling. It has failed to build new alliances in the Middle East, quite the opposite in fact, and has shown its vulnerability to Iran and Russia, its traditional regional rivals. In his new book Erdoğan’s Empire, Soner Çağaptay breaks down the geopolitics of the AKP era in forensic detail.
Luke Frostick writes: Burhan Sönmez has been quietly building up a reputation for writing really good novels and his latest offering, Labyrinth, further cements that he is one of the most interesting writers working today. The story follows Boratin, a young jazz musician who has lost his memory after a failed suicide attempt from the Bosphorus Bridge.
Luke Frostick writes: In April 1957 US Ambassador Fletcher Warren burst into Prime minister Menderes’s cabinet meeting to try and prevent him from taking military action in Syria. Menderes had to make a hard choice. This is one of the more dramatic moments in Egemen Bezci’s new book Turkish Intelligence and the Cold War: The Turkish Secret Service, the US and the UK.
Editor's Picks
Şenay Aydemir writes: It seems like Netflix, rather than providing resources to Turkey and contributing to the advancement of the sector, chooses to work with producers that already have a strong share in the market. Though the Netflix Turkey team claims they are open to all kinds of projects and ideas, they are obviously more open to certain ideas, projects and production companies.
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Ankara's conflict-oriented foreign policy has received the public's support for military operations, but public opinion often fails to translate into votes. While Ankara's "enemy" in military conflict is ever-changing, the northern Syria conflict was revealed to be the only intervention that expanded the government's voter base.
Politics
Recidivism is high among youth criminals in Turkey as more than half of released minors eventually end up back in prison due to a lack of opportunities and support structures upon their release, said the Youth Re-autonomy Foundation of Turkey (TÇYÖV).
As countless stray animals live difficult lives on the streets of Istanbul, the city municipality has teamed up with an animal rights activist to develop an sophisticated app aimed at meeting the needs of the city's street animals and finding them permanent homes.
A budget proposal for 2021 that Vice President Fuat Oktay presented to parliament allocated funds to purchase hundreds of vehicles for government agencies as the country's economy remains strained. The Turkish Lira has been depreciating consistently since the beginning of the year, resisting state intervention as Ankara's international reserves shrink.
Turkish Parliament has received 25 new summaries of proceedings against 11 HDP lawmakers. If Parliament votes to strip the deputies of their immunity from prosecution, they will be tried by Turkish courts.
Hate speech and threats against Armenians in Turkey have accelerated following the outbreak of clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. HDP MP Garo Paylan, himself a Turkish-Armenian, has been targeted for his insistence on a ceasefire. "We can conclude that there will be no favorable results from this war--which has caused loss and destruction on both sides—and that the solution is on the peace table," Paylan said.
Turkey's top medical association has said that 143,000 coronavirus patients are currently treated at their homes, whereas 460,000 others have been placed under mandatory home quarantine. The Turkish Medical Association made the remarks based on the results of a survey conducted with family physicians across the country.
A report penned by CHP lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu has said that 29 journalists, writers and publishers have received jail terms during January-September period of this year, 20 of whom have been arrested. "The animosity against journalists that is on the rise during the AKP rule is due to the government's stance against freedom of press,” Tanrıkulu said.
A group of university students and alumni are requesting that the Credit and Dormitories Agency (KYK) annul all loans. Currently, some five million Turkish university students are in debt to the state-run KYK, and 300,000 face prosecution for not being able to pay back the debt.
The lira sank to a record low to near 8 versus the dollar after Turkey’s central bank ignored investors' calls to raise its main interest rate. The decision to leave the rate unchanged prompted economists to question the central bank’s commitment to lowering inflation and its independence from the government.
Putin said on Oct. 22 Russia and Turkey disagree about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but emphasized strong ties between Moscow and Ankara. Erdoğan "might seem tough, but is a flexible politician and reliable partner for Russia," Putin said.
A 24-year-old woman was shot dead by her brother in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, news portal Jinnews reported on Oct. 21. Meanwhile, a local court discounted a femicide assailant's sentence on "good behavior," adding to the list of killers that Turkish courts are lenient toward.
Protesting miners from around Turkey were promised a solution within 10 days during an Oct. 21 meeting with Justice and Development Party (AKP) Group Deputy Chairwoman Özlem Zengin. Hundreds of miners started marching to the capital earlier this month, as survivors of the Soma Mining Disaster are yet to receive damages, and workers in Ermenek have 13 months of unpaid wages.
A newly passed legislation will allow ministries to veil their budget items as they submit their budget proposals to parliament. This means that they are no longer obliged to make it public how much is paid to private contractors for projects.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Oct. 22 Turkey will operate the gas field which it recently discovered in the Black Sea on its own, but it may cooperate with foreign firms in terms of detailed work and equipment. The minister's comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 17 Turkey had raised the estimated reserves of the field to 405 billion cubic meters after finding an additional 85 bcm.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has confirmed that Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems were tested last week, as he also dismissed NATO allies' concerns on the issue. Akar also said that the S-400 won’t be integrated into NATO’s command-and-control infrastructure, but rather "used as a standalone system similar to the use of Russian-made S-300 weapons that exist within NATO."
Turkey's Health Ministry will regulate the administration of flu shots through the online government portal as supplies will fall short of soaring demand. Patients will need to obtain prescriptions from their family practitioner, report to a pharmacy with their prescription. Pharmacies will be supplied shots only after receipt of a prescription.
The AKP and its ally MHP on Oct. 21 rejected the HDP's demand to investigate what really unfolded during the 2014 Kobane protests for the 10th time. The HDP's demand came after dozens of its members, including co-mayors of the eastern province of Kars, were arrested over the protests six years later earlier this month.
A bus assistant in Turkey sexually harassed a 17-year-old passenger on a trip with Metro Turizm vehicle, notorious for sexual assault incidents. The company told an Instagram user who shared footage of the assault that the worker was uninsured, and asked them to remove the video.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has determined that teacher and author Tahir Baykuşak's rights were violated by police who assaulted him during an ID check in Istanbul in 2016. The court said that a proper investigation was not carried out and that the mistreatment of police violated the 17th Article of the constitution.
Economy
The Turkish government has said that it "laughs off" boycotts imposed on Turkish products in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and United Arab Emirates. "We laugh off some countries' boycotts against Turkey. They should first learn to stand as independent countries," AKP deputy leader Numan Kurtulmuş said on Oct. 18.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that income per capita in Turkey would drop to 2005 levels, an annual average of $7,720. The IMF also predicted a five percent contraction in the Turkish economy until the end of 2020, despite Ankara's 0.3 percent growth projection.
Turkey's net international investment deficit grew by $20 billion from the end of 2019 to reach a total $365.8 billion at the end of August. Turkey's international assets shrunk by 10.2 percent to reach $227.4 billion in the same period.
President Erdoğan on Oct. 17 announced the discovery of an additional 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea, following a similar find in August. As a result of testing, analysis and detailed engineering work, another 85 billion cubic meters were added to the reserves we had discovered. The total amount of natural gas reserves in the TUNA-1 well of the Sakarya Gas Field reached 405 billion cubic meters," Erdoğan said.
Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) revealed a dip in real estate sales vis-a-vis last year in September, dropping by 6.9 percent for some 136,744 residences sold. Meanwhile, the total volume of sales between January and September was larger than the number in 2019.
Urban Beat
Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakır is nestled in Mesopotamia and has a deep legacy spanning millenniums and civilizations. A recent discovery on the 8000-year-old Amida Höyük archaeological site has unearthed an 1800-year-old heating system that was quite sophisticated for the time.
Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan's work that she created during her two prison sentences between 2016 and 2019 are on display in Turkey for the first time. The artist was jailed on terrorism charges and gained international fame after finishing her second sentence and holding a show at London's Tate Modern.
Turkey's Presidential Symphony Orchestra will thrive thanks to the completion of its long-awaited music hall, Conductor Cemi'i Can Deliorman said. Having been in the works for 25 years, the music hall's large auditorium can seat more than two thousand viewers.
Alterations on Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia reportedly violated guidelines mandated under the site's "UNESCO World Heritage" status. Converted within two weeks of the legal ruling that allowed Muslim worship, the ancient structure's mosaics were unlawfully covered up, and any work on it was deemed practically impossible, architectural publication Mimarlık Magazine reported.