The Milet Turkish Literature Series includes over a dozen books that are ideal for teaching in college and university courses. We have highlighted several titles from the series below.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request desk or exam copies of the titles you are interested to teach in your classroom.
Aeolian Visions/Versions: Modern Classic and New Writing from Turkey
Edited by Mel Kenne, Saliha Paker, and Amy Spangler
The perfecting starting point for survey courses on Turkish literature or for deeper examination in translation studies courses, Aeolian Visions offers a who's who of 20th-century Turkish writing. It is the product of the Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature, instituted in 2006 on the beautiful Aegean island of Cunda to end the longstanding dearth of Turkish translations into English. The workshop has met regularly since its founding, and Aeolian Visions, instigated in 2012, is its largest and most broad-ranging product. The result of years of work, and involving in-depth collaboration between translators, authors, and poets, it brings an essential cross section of modern Turkish literature to English. The book ranges from the classic writer Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar (whose book A Mind at Peace was given to President Obama by the Turkish government) to contemporary greats like Nurdan Gürbilek (a preeminent and provocative cultural critic), the feminist poets Gülten Akın and Zeynep Uzunbay (known for smashing gender barriers), Hasan Ali Toptas (called the “Turkish Kafka”), and Murat Gülsoy, whose unique “A Week of Kindness in Istanbul” consists of multiple texts written by seven different narrators (who were each given a different translator), each one responding to illustrations from Max Ernst’s A Week of Kindness. The anthology also features striking literature with sociopolitical themes, such as Gulten Akın's bracing "Poems of 42 Days," which deals with the poet's 42-day prison hunger strike, and Mine Sogut's "Kurdish Cats and Gypsy Butterflies," which uses the titular creatures to create a surreal parable about ethnic minorities in Turkey. A remarkable, one-of-a-kind accomplishment, Aeolian Visions is unparalleled in its breadth and depth as an introduction to the important, innovative, multitudinous writing in Turkey that is just waiting to be discovered by English-language readers.
Europe in Women's Short Stories from Turkey
Edited by Gültekin Emre
Dealing with themes of feminism and autonomy, immigration and nationalism, and featuring a rich multiplicity of voices, the 23 stories in Europe in Women's Short Stories from Turkey examine the tensions and pleasures when Turkish women encounter Europe. In these diverse stories, the writers offer illuminating perspectives on European cities, landscapes and peoples, while delving into the decisions and desires that have led them to venture across borders. The works range among multiple generations of authors—the pieces here were written between 1975 and 2010—and they incorporate various narrative strategies and aesthetic schools. The narrator of the beautiful, evocative "Fragile City" returns to the turbulent Eastern city of Diyarbakir after years of exile in Stockholm and finds herself haunted by flashbacks of struggle. "While Waiting for the Train"—told inventively as unattributed dialogue—shows how three Turkish women of radically different politics and backgrounds become fast friends while confronting the foreignness of a train station in Germany. And "Life under Surveillance" finds a recently returned Turkish émigré lamenting how the Germans "turned up their noses at the dirty work that we rolled up our sleeves and got on with," even as he is surprised by the enormous cultural changes that have occurred in Turkey since he first left. From Venice to Paris to Berlin, the Netherlands, Britain, and Scandinavia, Europe in Women's Short Stories from Turkey shows a multifaceted, complex view of the continent from Turkish eyes. It is excellent for examining the complex web of nationalities and beliefs that make up modern Europe today, as well as for those interested in studying the resolution of conflicts between cultures and ethnicities that occurs when East meets West.
by Buket Uzuner
The author was named one of the 75 Most Influential Women of the Republic of Turkey
Long recognized as one of Turkey's leading writers, Buket Uzuner here offers a suite of stories exploring the mix of anxiety and freedom, the self-reliance and unexpected help that are found when people travel alone. From Walter Benjamin to Mary Magdalene and Saint Nicholas, in Istanbul Blues Uzuner examines with keen sensitivity and wit the personalities and ideas at the heart of the different places she visits, yet she always finds her own heart in Istanbul, which she depicts with brilliance and passion. What makes Istanbul Blues special is Uzuner's ability to re-invest common notions with new meaning—in “Why Doesn't Santa Love Me, Daddy?,” she returns us to the actual birthplace of the man known as Santa Claus, producing a rich meditation on Turkish unease over the infiltration of European values. “The Mysterious Passenger at the Spanish Border” boldly envisions the last day of one of Europe's most cherished intellectuals, just before he claims his own life in the Spanish Pyrenees while on the run from the Nazi regime. And in the Borgesian “The Other Twin,” a young woman's family is brought to desperation by a letter than she denies she could have ever possibly written—until the day when she finally figures out who the real author was. These innovative, original glimpses of many different kinds of journeys show a recognized leader in Turkish literature at the height of her powers, offering an engaging, deep book for discussion and exploration.
by Selim İleri
Handan Sarp, a magnificent opera soprano, falls for Elem, a lowly seamstress. It is Turkey in the tumultuous 1980s and Selim İleri tells the story of a poignant, complex relationship that attempts to cross lines of class and sexuality. Striking a universal tone, Boundless Solitude is not simply a book about love between two women—it is ultimately a book about the nature of love itself, and how its trials and its raptures are a common point of understanding: as the author writes, “all loves resemble one another.” Boundless Solitude is also deeply socially aware, conjuring the mix of impressions and feelings that the author himself experienced in the newly liberalized Istanbul of the ‘80s. Moreover, this novel is aesthetically innovative: boldly inserting himself into the tale, İleri offers his own voice as a counterpoint to the narrative of the opera singer and the seamstress. Lush, meditative, yet sharp, this novel is a modern epic that shows a master of the Turkish language delving into terrain rarely explored in Turkish literature and coming back with lucid insights and an arresting, passionate story.
As the Red Carnation Fades
by Feyza Hepçilingirler
Based on the author's own experiences in post-coup 1980s Turkey, and reminiscent of the internal monologue of Virginia Woolf and the strident feminism of Clarice Lispector, As the Red Carnation Fades is the tale of Sibel, a young professor who is transferred to a different province, far from her husband and children when she refuses to compromise her values. As Sibel feels her way forward, author Feyza Hepçilingirler elaborates her character as a teacher, and as a mother and wife, showing how Sibel comes to terms with the possibilities allowed to her gender in a society that is becoming more progressive but still has much farther to go. Even as Sibel fights to maintain her academic freedom and her right to employment, she finds that she must balance her needs with those of her children, the domestic duties that are expected of her, the emotional support that she must give to her husband, and the pressure on her to live up to the ideals of his mother. Employing postmodern narrative techniques— including portions where Sibel writes of herself in the third-person and darkly comic, cinematic scenes of show trials—As the Red Carnation Fades is aesthetically innovative and a breakthrough feminist classic of Turkish literature.
by Mehmet Eroğlu
The proprietor of a resort hotel on a beautiful, beach-strewn peninsula, Kuzey spends his days cut off from the world and drenched in alcohol in an attempt to escape painful memories of his former love, Şafak. Kuzey is also tormented by political wounds from his days as a leftist militant during two military coups in Turkey, and his friend Sami, who was physically scarred by an anti-communist bullet, is a constant reminder of those dangerous days. Moving between different decades, and mixing in voices of secondary characters and the impressionistic “diary of an itinerant drunkard” The Disenchanted is an ingeniously told, poignant, and philosophical story that is deeply versed in both contemporary Turkey and the Turkey of the past. A riveting story with larger than life characters, while also being an examination of Turkey's politics, the book is ideal for igniting conversations on a variety of topics. Author Mehmet Eroğlu delves profoundly into how surrendering to love and committing to political resistance can leave indelible marks on individuals.
A Midlife Dream
by Erendiz Atasü
Trapped in a loveless marriage with Ferhat, Feride is only kept afloat by her love for her daughter-in-law, Şirin. Feride fell in love with Ferhat amid Turkey's tumultuous 1970s, when her husband-to-be's fiery political speeches revealed an inspirational side, but those days are long since gone. When Ferhat suddenly dies, Feride is freed, but she is forced to be alone for the first time and confront her immeasurable feelings of loss. She meets Sedat, a man who was tortured during the military coup of 1971 and has a past of his own to overcome. They build a life together, but then Feride is confronted with another devastating challenge, one that goes right to the heart of her identity as a woman. Taking a postmodern, fractured approach to narration, author Erendiz Atasü constructs A Midlife Dream from a variety of compelling voices. There are first-person accounts, written as letters from Feride to Sirin, that provide in-depth views of Istanbul. There are also essayistic portions that let Atasü tease apart the complex mixture of emotions, memories, and historical facts that have gone into making Feride and Sedat the people they are. Deeply informed by events in modern Turkish history, A Midlife Dream is a bracing, extraordinarily poignant novel that unravels what we repress, revealing our determination to fight for the most important parts of our identity.