In [Elif Shafak's] sixth and most recent novel, “The Bastard of Istanbul,” which is already a best seller in Turkey and will be published in the United States by Viking next year, one character declares: “My father is Barsam Tchakhmakhchian, my great-uncle is Dikran Stamboulian, his father is Varvant Istanboluian, my name is Armanoush Tchakhmakhchian, all my family tree has been Something Somethingian, and I am the grandchild of genocide survivors who lost all their relatives in the hands of Turkish butchers in 1915, but I myself have been brainwashed to deny the genocide because I was raised by some Turk named Mustapha!” These are strong words in a country whose official historians maintain that the Armenian genocide at the hands of Turks is itself a fiction... In September, she spoke at a conference at Bilgi University in Istanbul — the first Turkish conference ever to challenge the official line on the Ottoman Armenians — and though she went on to state her own position clearly and unequivocally in several newspapers, the censors left her alone. But early last month, Shafak learned that she was to be prosecuted for, among other things, allowing a character of partly Armenian heritage in “The Bastard of Istanbul” to utter the forbidden G-word. Her trial is scheduled for Sept. 21.Hey that's just in time for Banned Book Week! PEN urges you to take action.
Tags: Turkey, Armenia, genocide, censorship, banned books