Elif Shafak: The politics of fiction   2 comments

Elif Shafak builds on the simple idea that listening to stories will not only widen our imaginations, but also help us overcome identity politics.


2 responses to “Elif Shafak: The politics of fiction

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  1. Reblogged this on turkischland.

  2. Reblogged this on Tying Molecular Knots and commented:
    It’s no secret, I love TED Talks.

    I had to stop on this one, because it struck deep and resonant chords with me. Stories are transcendent. Art in the form of literature, music, painting, and dance are something beyond the average experience. This author’s mention of cultural ghettos and the limitations forced upon creative people by identity politics are worth a careful listen.

    My mother and grandparents lived, for a while, in Ankara, as members of the USAF. When she mentioned the whirling dervish, I picture in my mind the black and white photographs in a box with other bits of memories from their years spent there.

    All Turks where dirty and somewhat evil in the minds of my mother and grandmother. Living there was a horrible, frightening time filled with stories of American cars being attacked and mobs of people doing things mobs of people do. Air craft strafing their apartment and my grandmother sleeping with the kitchen knives under her pillow.

    They got to see the world. In fairness, they didn’t like their time in England much better. The English wrote “Yankee Go Home” they told me. Everywhere but America was dangerous–even the places peopled by white folks.

    They are very disturbed by my rejection of their attitudes, attending a Catholic Church staffed by nuns from Nigeria and filled with people with Mexican names. Some of the masses are even in Spanish! Don’t I know my kids could end up seeing these brown people as peers? They might even marry one of “them” some day?! What am I thinking?

    I’m thinking what this author is thinking: there is something more to existence than where we are from or the people who raised us. I’m thinking I’d very much like it if my children grew up and married one of “them”–whoever “them” is.

    Identity. Sigh. I don’t believe in identity. People are people. Mobs in America would probably be the same as mobs anywhere under the right conditions.

    I enjoy volunteering in moments of disaster, because we are all people then. Those “mundane differences” she mentions, they do fall away when we are reduced to our basic nature. They disappear when we become humans interacting with other humans rather than whites interacting with blacks or Americans interacting with Turks.

    I like being human better than being a stereotype. And I like good literature.

    I hope she does write a story about a Turkish woman, though. And when she does, I hope she writes her brilliant and happy.

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