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Writers gather to debate ‘city and fear’ 22 septembre 2012

Posted by Acturca in Art-Culture, Istanbul, Turkey / Turquie.
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The Daily Telegraph (UK) 22 September 2012, p. 12

Bernadette McNulty

Ian Rankin and Louis de Bernieres are among the star line–up of 68 authors from 22 countries at Istanbul’s thriving autumn literary festival.

It is only apt that a perpetually transforming, transcontinental city such as Istanbul should give rise to a dynamic, international literary festival that has set up a fascinating dialogue with the outside world. Hooking up with an array of other arts organisations and literary festivals from across Europe, including the Hay Festival, the fourth Istanbul Tanpinar Literature Festival will next month gather together 68 authors from 22 countries.

You get the feeling that if the ghost of Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, the great 20th–century Turkish novelist and poet, is lingering in the baroque silver–and–white dining room of the Cezayir Restaurant or marvelling at the bright young things in the Karga Bar over the four–day event (October 1 to 4), he will have a whale of a time. Just as Tanpinar set out to mix Western and Turkish literary traditions, so the festival named after him seeks to bring together diverse writers in a conversation around common themes.

The overarching theme of this year’s gathering is « City and Fear », explored in all its permutations. Ian Rankin, Scottish master of the crime novel, has made a career out of turning the picture–perfect setting of Edinburgh into a shadowy lair of violence and transgression, framed through the eyes of his outsider law–keepers, Inspector John Rebus and, more recently, Malcolm Fox, a police internal complaints investigator.

Along with Leena Lehtolainen, a Finnish crime novelist who has surely created the perfect foil to Rankin’s macho cops in her policewoman, Maria Kallio, Rankin will be talking about the stigmatisation of thrillers and detective novels and how this affects authors and changes the way in which they write. Lehtolainen, with her fellow Scandinavian Carl Johan Vallgren and the Turkish novelist Hakan Günday, will also be exploring whether the author’s biggest fear is the terror of the blank page.

The fear of an impending or near war has often framed the novels of Louis de Bernières, from the bestselling Captain Corelli’s Mandolin to 2004’s Birds Without Wings, set in Turkey. With the Colombian writer Juan Gabriel Vásquez, de Bernières will be discussing the subtleties of writing on violence and the effects of war, while also taking part in a debate with Jeffrey Lewis, the screenwriter for the American television cop series Hill Street Blues, and Yishai Sarid, an Israeli novelist, about the future of historical fiction in an age when small–scale narratives seem to have displaced sweeping yarns.

Two up–and–coming British writers, Ned Beauman and Jenn Ashworth, will be exploring the fears of adolescence in a talk entitled « The Rebel’s Cause: Nightmares of the Teen Street ». Beauman was on the longlist for the Booker Prize this year with his second novel, The Teleportation Accident, while Ashworth, in her 2011 novel Cold Light, describes how a teenage friendship goes awry to devastating effect.

Beyond the terrains of fear, the festival will also mark the 400th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Turkey and Holland, born out of the Silk Road ties between the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Festival venues will be transformed into Amsterdam cafés where eight Dutch writers, including Herman Koch and Stine Jensen, will explore the shared history of the two countries.

October 1–4; for more see itef.com.tr/en and telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay–festival

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