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Elif Shafak on Turkey: "The repression has increased"


Elif Shafak is the most famous author of Turkey. At the Frankfurt Book Fair she talked about the political situation under Erdogan, the task of literature - and about Peter Handke.

In her latest novel Unpoken Voices, Elif Shafak tells the oppressive story of Leila, a transsexual sex worker in Istanbul whose corpse was violated. "Minorities are being suppressed more strongly in Turkey today," Turkey's best-known author now said at the SPIEGEL stand. The repression has increased, even in public places.

In addition, the 47-year-old commented on her role as a writer: "Literature has the task of humanizing those who have been dehumanized," said Shafak. Literati can express themselves politically, regardless of whether it's right-wing or left-leaning. But Nobel laureate Peter Handke criticized her: "It breaks my heart when a writer denies genocide." Especially at a time when populism is gathering in Hungary, Russia, Poland, Turkey and other countries, accompanied by homophobia, racism and sexism.

She also talked about her own biography and herself: "I'm not very optimistic," Shafak said, because she got her education from her Turkish grandmother. In Turkey one would be more pessimistic.

Shafak grew up after her parents divorced with her mother, a diplomat and scientist, and her grandmother, a woman who, according to Shafak, called herself a "healer." It would have to thank the two women that on the one hand they had brought modern and urban education, on the other hand they had got to know Turkish tradition. She also uses this in her literature.

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Source: spiegel

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