Elif Shafak

Last fall I wrote (The Threat of Art) about Turkish writer Elif Shafak who faced trial in Istanbul for insulting “Turkishness” because a character in her novel The Bastard of Istanbul referred to the Turkish massacre of millions of Armenians in 1915. She was acquitted of the charges. Today’s New York Times carries a short article about Shafak’s current book-tour visit to New York City, a tour cut short by the January murder of Turkish editor Hrant Dink, a friend of Shafak. It provides a glimpse into the life of a writer who faces outsized risks for her art.

5 Replies to “Elif Shafak”

  1. Lucile

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  2. jtannhau

    I agree with vee87. Learning of this author being sent to trial over insulting “Turkishness” certainly helps us appreciate our freedom of speech. Not only that, but Shafak’s reference to a Turkish Massacre is based off of fact. Simply referring back to a point in history is not something one should be punished for. She is not responsible for the Turkish Massacre. In a way, the Turkish massacre itself is the item insulting “Turkishness.”

  3. tinasaj

    Turkey’s government never ceases to amaze me when it comes to doing anything and everthing in their power to deny the Armenian Genocide. I, myself, may be a bit bias considering I am 100% Armenian, but to me the actions of the Turkish government speaks much louder than their laws. It is absolutley ridiculous to me that the freedoms let alone the lives of innocent people are limited because Turkey’s government feels the need to continue their almost century-long efforts to hide the genocide of 1915. I feel as though Armenian lobbyists (www.anca.org) should stop trying to be the plaintiffs in this “criminal case” and the American government should take the initiative to prosecute the Turkish Government. How far is the Turkish government going to go until the American government says, “Wait, this isn’t right”. Maybe the American government has no right to interpret Turkish laws but Elif Shafak’s experience is one reason why they should.

  4. vee87

    I think Elif Shafak’s experience definitely shows how important our freedom of speech from the First Amendment is in our lives. Shafak, trying to write freely in Turkey, was punished by both the murder of her friend and being tried in court. Now, even her life is in danger! Meanwhile, here in the US with the First Amendment, we can enjoy more protection from such treatment. I hope that she can live a normal life again soon and that her child will not have such a difficult life either.

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