Guidebooks, histories, biographies, novels...any good books having to do with Turkey and things Turkish.
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This is a series of short stories about growing up in Istanbul between the end of the 1930s and the middle of the 1950s. Farhi, a Turkish Jew (or Jewish Turk, if you prefer) was born in Istanbul in 1935 and emigrated to Britain in the 1950s. The characters, many of whom belong to an ethnic or religious minority, possess noble ideals about democracy, diversity, tolerance and liberty, ideals which often land them in trouble with the nationalistically-inclined authorities. Times were difficult and people seem to have felt compelled to take a stand, as when Muslims rally round to provide for Christian and Jewish neighbours hit by the discriminatory Property Tax introduced in 1942. Discussion of ideals can mean a cast of intellectuals and an author writing about writers but Farhi, refereshingly, also gives voices to circus performers, wandering bodyguards and others from the ranks of the less well-off. So much for the heavy side. Bringing lightness to these tales are the universal themes of love and loss and a great deal of sex, a subject treated with frankness (rose-petal jam will never seem quite the same again). The writing, vivid and lyrical, constitutes an ode to all that was (is) good about Istanbul.