Turkish author Buket Uzuner talks about her new book, and her love for Istanbul
Buket Uzuner is a microbiologist and environmental scientist, perhaps an unusual background for a fiction writer who has, over the decades, become a name to be reckoned with in Turkey. Author of several short stories, novels and travelogues, Uzuner, who writes in Turkish, has been translated into eight languages. She was in New Delhi on the invitation of the Turkish Ambassador Burak Akcapar. A reading was held at the Ambassador’s residence of her latest, I Am Istanbul, or Istanbullu. A work of fiction that encapsulates the spirit, history of mythology of this massive, turbulent, fast changing city, the book reads like a microcosmic introduction to what Uzuner fears is a fast disappearing world.
Edited excerpts from an interview:
It’s rare for an author to try her hand at several literary forms and emerge successful. You’ve written travelogues, short stories, novels, essays. Are the transitions smooth, effortless?
When you put it like that it looks really terrifying, but when you are in it you don’t think of it. It is like sometimes eating salty things, sometimes sweet. When I write a novel there are lots of short stories in it, but then in novels you have to be like an architect. Even if you do draw the prettiest windows and doors and walls, you need to know how to put them together, without which the work is useless. Of course, there is no school to teach you this. In the workshops I give in Istanbul, I tell young writers that no one can teach you writing, you are born with it. And to be a writer, a good writer, you need to have empathy.
I started as a short story writer, I always thought I’d only write those. But then I was tempted to see how I would handle writing a novel, the idea was really terrifying. I still have same feeling.