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IN THIS VOLUME, Elif Batuman, Burhan Soenmez, Elif Shafak among other Turkish writers, many of them in self-imposed exile, explore a fascinating yet maddening country.

Turkey Summary

The Passenger collects the best new writing, photography, and reportage from around the world. Its aim, to break down barriers and introduce the essence of the place. Packed with essays and investigative journalism; original photography and illustrations; charts, and unusual facts and observations, each volume offers a unique insight into a different culture, and how history has shaped the place into what it is today.

Brimming with intricate research and enduring wonder, The Passenger is a love-letter to global travel.

IN THIS VOLUME, Elif Batuman, Burhan Soenmez, Elif Shafak among other Turkish writers, many of them in self-imposed exile, explore a fascinating yet maddening country.

The birth of the New Turkey, as the country's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called his own creation, is an exemplary story of the rise of illiberal democracies through the erosion of civil liberties, press freedom, and the independence of the judicial system. Turkey was a complex country long before the rise of its new sultan: born out of the ashes of a vast multi-ethnic and multi-religious empire, Turkey has grappled through its relatively short history with the definition of its own identity.

Poised between competing ideologies, secularism and piousness, a militaristic nationalism and exceptional openness to foreigners, Turkey defies easy labels and categories. Through the voices of some of its best writers and journalists, The Passenger analyses how it got to where it is today and finds the bright spots of hope that allow its always resourceful, often frustrated population to continue living, and thriving.

Turkey Reviews

These books are so rich and engrossing that it is rewarding to read them even when one is stuck at home. * The TLS *
Few travel guides are confident enough to tell the stories of a destination's complex realities as well as those of their beauty. [The Passenger] has a strong focus on storytelling, with pages given over to a mix of essays, playlists and sideways glances at subcultures and thorny urban issues. * The Stack *
Half-magazine, half-book . . . think of [The Passenger] as an erudite and literary travel equivalent to National Geographic, with stunning photography and illustration and fascinating writing about place. * (Best series of the year - 2021) *
The Passenger readers will find none of the typical travel guide sections on where to eat or what sights to see. Consider the books, rather, more like a literary vacation--the kind you can take without braving a long flight in the time of Covid-19. * Publisher's Weekly *
Fresh and diverting, informative and topical without being slight or ephemeral [...] This supremely well-edited combination of current affairs, journalism, commentary, and fun facts is perfect for our pause-button moment. * Australian Financial Review (Best Books of the Year) *
Tremendously eclectic and classily produced . . . each volume gets under the skin of a country or a city in a multifaceted way that feels essential in these times of narrowing national horizons. * The Bookseller *

Table of Contents


Turkey in Numbers
The National Obsession: Raki and Tea - Kaleydoskop
The Icon: Bulent Ersoy - Kaleydoskop

The Big Dig - Elif Batuman
Urban planners in Istanbul have a problem: too much history - and too many agendas: which chapter of the past should they showcase? Turkey's pre-Islamic origins, as promoted by Ataturk, or the Ottoman glories so dear to President Erdogan's heart?

Don't Call It Soap Opera - Fatima Bhutto
Turkish TV series like The Magnificent Century are rivalling US programmes for international popularity and taking the Middle East, Asia and Latin America by storm. What is the reason for their global success?

The Thirty-Year Coup - Dexter Filkins
Was an exiled Islamic preacher behind the attempted military coup of 2016? Dexter Filkins probes the secrets and mysteries of the Gulen movement and its clash with former ally President Erdogan, following decades spent infiltrating Turkish bureaucracy to undermine the secular state.

Business a la Turque - Alev Scott
A portrait of the Turkish economy, which is driven by an innate entrepreneurial spirit and the great dream of instant wealth but perennially forced to deal with political instability.

Eros and Thanatos at the Restaurant - Sema Kaygasuz
Although the Turkish feminist movement is more than a century old, women still find themselves trapped between two opposing but equally suffocating ideologies - one secular and one religious. Only recently have they begun to make their voices heard within a patriarchal system dominated by men who 'love them to death' but have no hesitation in killing them to keep them quiet.

A Story of Dust and Light - Burhan Sonmez
Every summer the writer Burhan Sonmez returns to the Anatolian village in which he was born - but the only remnant of that unspoiled rural world, with its traditions and apolitical religious faith, is the banned Kurdish language.

Turkish Nationalism and Its Historical Roots - Gerhard Schweizer
From the ruins of the Ottoman Empire - where Turks, Kurds, Armenians and Greeks lived together in peace for centuries in a multi-ethnic state in which language played no role in politics or identity - a new nationalism grew up that would separate the different peoples and impose an enforced Turkification, the principal victims of which were the Armenians.

No Fairy-Tale Ending: Hasankeyf and the Ilisu Dam - Ercan y Yilmaz
In the heart of the Mesopotamian basin, the cradle of the world's most ancient civilisations, the city of Hasankeyf should have been an prime candidate for UNESCO's World Heritage List - but rather than being flooded by tourists it has been drowned following the damming of the River Tigris.

'I Can't Stay Silent': Turkish Rap - Begum Kovulmaz
Turkish rap first emerged in Kreuzberg, Berlin, and reached Istanbul in the 1990s, where it remained a niche genre for many years. When it exploded into the mainstream in the late 2010s the time was ripe for it to become the Gezi generation's main forum for protest and the reclamation of their physical and cultural spaces.

The Pen(cil) Is Mightier ... - Valentina Marcella
Satire is one of the few remaining channels for criticising the government in Turkey. Undeterred, amid protest and censorship, cartoonists are continuing their fight against attempts to squash the right to freedom of expression.

Ultras United: How the Gezi Park Protests Brought the Fans Together - Stephen Wood
The 2013 protest movement was so widespread that it even achieved the miracle of bridging the chasms between football's big three in Istanbul - Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas - some of the most deeply felt rivalries in world football.

A Sign of the Times - Kaleydoskop
An Author Recommends - Elif Shafak
The Playlist - Acik Radyo and Kaleydoskop
Further Reading

Additional information

Turkey: The Passenger by
Europa Editions (UK) Ltd
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
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Customer Reviews - Turkey