On May 20, Sidestreets was hosting a press conference on the release of
“The Series of Modern Turkish Cypriot Literature”
a new and historic literary publication: the unique, eight-volume bilingual (Turkish and English) “Series of Modern Turkish Cypriot Literature.”
Volume 1: Poetry (167 pages; edited by Suzan Yılmaz and featuring works by 37 writers)
Volume 2: Operettas and Plays (305 pages; edited by Bilen Kılıç; 25 writers)
Volume 3: Memoirs and Travel Writing (358 pages; edited by Ahmet Gildir; 32 writers)
Volume 4: Short Stories (358 pages; edited by Gür Genç; 34 writers)
Volume 5: Novels (370 pages; edited by Turhan Uludağ; 20 writers)
Volume 6: Essays (429 pages; edited by Nazan Ökçün; 51 writers)
Volume 7: Literary Criticism and Study (776 pages; edited by Murat Bülbülcü; 29 writers)
Volume 8: Biographies and Bibliography (213 pages; edited by Jenan Selcuk; biographical notes on all the authors featured in the series)
All editors were present plus Dr. Mehmet Yaşin as head of the research and project group. BRT television and some columnists and journalists from the local press had come to ask questions about the background of the three years project. Dr. Johann Pillai from Sidestreets welcomed their guests:
The publication of “The Series of Modern Turkish Cypriot Literature” is an extraordinary event: it fills an important gap in Cyprus’s cultural history and makes this field accessible for the first time to both Turkish- and English-speaking audiences; it also represents the first comprehensive classification of genres and styles of modern Turkish Cypriot literature; it opens up new ways of thinking about the literature and performing arts in Cyprus; and it creates new avenues to explore issues of memory, history, identity, and individual and group identity in such fields as sociology, anthropology, history, and cultural studies. The collection will undoubtably be the standard reference source in the field for schools and universities throughout Cyprus.
Dr. Mehmet Yasin explained the project:
This unique eight-volume paperback collection is the product of a comprehensive three-year research, translation and publication project examining about 130 years of Turkish Cypriot literature from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Eight editors from academic backgrounds collaborated with other editors from creative backgrounds, to produce, for the first time, an extraordinary overview of the range and quality of Modern Turkish Cypriot Literature. Also for the first time, each text or excerpt from a longer work is printed in the original Turkish, followed by its English translation.
The questions brought forward were:
Who made the selection and under what aspects? Are the writers and poets chosen the best ones? Where were the research works done?
The eight editors did intensive research in the archives of the universities, national archives, book shops, internet etc. The selection was made according to the most representative writings representing its time, representing a certain style. Not all could be published just a most representative cross section.
Other questions concerned: costs and quality of printing, distribution, who will buy such books? What is the value of return?
The books will be an important source of information for universities and schools and also reach educational institutions in other countries. Literature is the basic cultural assets of a country and holds between its pages more information on cultural and political development seen through the eyes of the writers who try to analyze the events of their time and their personal involvement and pains. Current developments can only be understood when the history and background information is known.
Also most important are the aspects of literature’s various fields which have been treated in these eight volumes in order to obtain a whole picture of our literature
My question was:
Why is the question of identity so much in the foreground in all efforts of this kind. There are basic common experiences, history and sufferances, true, but writers and poets all have a different way of upbringing, family and other influences, so they will gather all the lived and experienced items and with the common basics develop their own stories, with their own words, use their own spittle. Nothing travels faster than the news about a new book, a new style and I trust that all writers try their hand in that new style for a while. I believe more in individualism. Everybody wants to tell a story in his/her unmistakably personal style. Or, am I wrong?
The question of identity is more of a group identity, of a community, a country. We present ourselves as Turkish Cypriots We want to be known as Turkish Cypriots, our literature as of Turkish Cypriot writers, and nothing else.
One hour later the Book Launch was celebrated at the Mallia Wine Bar in the Büyük Han, Lefkosa, a wine bar which belongs to the Cizenels a nice and comfortable place which is not open every day.
The books are obtainable at Sidestreets opposite the court.
PS: I will collect my series I had ordered at the price of the day, very reasonable.