How Istanbul’s Cultural Complexities Have Shaped Eight Contemporary Novelists ( Byalt, Glazebrook, Atasu, Aafak, Tillman, Livaneli, Kristeva, and Pamuk)

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I examine representations of Istanbul in the texts of contemporary Turkish and non-Turkish writers such as A. S. Byatt, Philip Glazebrook, Erendiz Atasü, Elif afak, Lynne Tillman, Zülfü Livaneli, Julia Kristeva, and Orhan Pamuk. My project highlights how multiple and even contradictory depictions of Istanbul in contemporary texts engage in cross-genre mergings (of fiction, autobiography and theory) that narrate plural accounts of Istanbul’s imperial past and its present role as Turkey’s largest industrial city. The texts that inform this study underscore the unique location of Istanbul that unites Asia and Europe, and connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. I argue that Istanbul’s liminal position between the two continents becomes the site through which cultural identities are articulated in contemporary fiction on Turkey. I investigate the diverse ways novels of the last three decades produce Istanbul as a Byzantine, Ottoman, Oriental, Islamic, or as a Republican city. The distinctiveness of my project lies in its focus on recent representations of Istanbul which have not been comprehensively studied by literary scholars. This book will contribute to current scholarship on Istanbul by investigating how contemporary texts underline the social and political significances of the city’s geography at the threshold.


“Anyone who wishes to obtain a better understanding of this amazingly diverse, multilayered, complex city would do well to read this book.” – Michael McGaha, Pomon College

“…a nuanced and wide-ranging study that not only engages with an important literary corpus but that will also appeal to scholars and students working on theories of nationalism, travel, and the politics of representation.” – Sukanya Banerjee, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Table of Contents

Foreword by Michael McGaha

Preface by Nilgün Anadolu-Okur


Introduction: Istanbul as a Contested Terrain for Turkish and European Identities

CHAPTER 1: Istanbul Fantasies

Philip Glazebrook- Byzantine Honeymoon:

A Tale of the Bosphorus

Archie’s ferry journey on the Bosphorus and His Rental of an Ottoman Mansion

Archie’s Failed Honeymoon and Rachel as the New Woman Figure

Archie’s Harem Fantasies and Ottoman Slavery

Two British Women in the Harem

A.S. Byatt- “The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye”

Gillian’s Flight from England to Ankara and Her Shattered Ideals of Marriage

Istanbul: The City of Nymphs and Djinns

Gillian and the Djinn Share Stories of Beauty, Love, and Marriage in Istanbul

Istanbul: The City that Lies Outside Gillian’s Hotel Bedroom with the Djinn

CHAPTER 2: Istanbulite Women

Erendiz Atasü-The Other Side of the Mountain

From Salonika to Istanbul: Vicdan’s New Home

Love of Country and Lovers in England

Raik’s Istanbul and His Love for Vicdan

Vicdan’s Daughter and Istanbul after World War II

Elif ?afak- The Bastard of Istanbul

Zeliha and Asya Kazanc?: A Sinful Mother and Bastard of Istanbul

Banu Kazanc?: The Murdering Sister in Her Headscarf

Armanoush and Cevriye Kazanc?: The Construction of Turkish National History

CHAPTER 3: Istanbul as Contact Zone

Lynne Tillman- Motion Sickness

Tillman’s narrator: A Single American Woman Traveler in Europe

Istanbul in the 1980s

The Narrator’s Visit to Istanbul’s Old Town

Zülfü Livaneli- Bliss

The Golden City of Istanbul and the Shantytown of Rahmanl?

Predicaments of Migrant Women in Istanbul

Travels from Istanbul to the Aegean Coast: Cemal and Meryem Meet ?rfan


Istanblues: The City as a Site of Nostalgia

Julia Kristeva- Murder in Byzantium

Byzantium’s Liminal Space and the Questions of Fragmented Identity

Claiming Byzantium as Occidental and Istanbul as Oriental

On Turkish Women, the Headscarf, and the European Union

Orhan Pamuk-Istanbul: Memories and the City

The Black and White City: Pamuk’s Nostalgia for Istanbul’s Multicultural Past

Istanbul’s Changing Landscape with the Rise of Turkification




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