As 2011 comes to a close what better way to mark it than through books. These are just a few of the memorable highs in a year overwhelming packed with lows.
İlhan Berk, Çiğnenmiş Gül. YKY, 2011. The unmistakable voice of İlhan Berk, as much alive as ever. [in Turkish]
Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, in a marvelous translation by Dick Davis. A spellbinding book of the pre-islamic Persian Kings. Penguin Books, 2007.
Evliyâ Çelebi’s Seyahatnâmesi, Book 2, Volume 1. Çelebi’s account of his journey to Trabzon in 1640 is one of the most important and compelling portraits we have of the city in Ottoman times. YKY, 2011. [in Turkish]
Evliya Çelebi, An Ottoman Traveller: Selection from the Book of Travels, trans. by Robert Dankoff & Sooyong Kim. Eland, 2010. Indisputably the most important single work of translation from Turkish to English for a decade. Long overdue, and not to be missed. The greatest travel writer of the Ottoman Empire, Çelebi has been described as a Turkish Pepys, a Muslim Montaigne and an Ottoman Herodotus. His interests range from architecture to natural history, through religion, politics, linguistics, music, science, food and the supernatural.
Michael Psellus, Fourteen Byzantine Rulers, trans. by E. R. A. Sewter. Penguin, 1966.
Pindar, The Complete Odes, trans. by Anthony Verity. Oxford, 2007.
Birhan Keskin, Soğuk Kazı. Metis, 2010. Keskin’s stunning, untranslatable eighth book. [in Turkish]
Turki Al Hamad, Shumaisi, trans. by Paul Starkey. Saqi, 2005. The second part of this Saudi novelist’s explosive coming-of-age trilogy. An extraordinary view into one of the world’s most secretive and hidden societies.
Asuman Suner, New Turkish Cinema: Belonging, Identity & Memory. I. B. Tauris, 2010. An interesting overview of the contemporary cinema scene in Turkey, notable for its treatment of Nuri Bilge Ceylan – the first significant assessment of his work so far in English – and for overlooking Semih Kaplanoğlu.
Andrew Brown, Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future that Disappeared. Granta, 2009.
Faruk Duman, Sencer ile Yusufçuk. Can, 2009. The fifth collection from a master of the Turkish short story. Is there anyone writing like Faruk Duman? What a shame you can’t read his work in English. [in Turkish]
Samuel Hearne, A Journey to the Northern Ocean. TouchWood, 2007. One of the greatest adventure narratives ever written, the story of Hearne’s three-year trek to seek a trade route across the Canadian Barrens in the Northwest Territories. First published in 1795.
Memet Can Doğan, Attar. YKY, 2009. The fifth collection from this fascinating young Turkish poet. [in Turkish]
David Thompson, The Travels, 1850 Version. Edited by William E. Moreau. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009. The book jacket says it all in describing Thompson’s Travels as “one of the finest early expressions of the Canadian experience. The work is not only an account of a remarkable life in the fur trade but an extended meditation on the land and Native peoples of western North America.” A mesmerizing read from cover to cover.