The 2013 London Book Fair (LBF), is now underway at the Earls Court conference centre. The annual conference chooses one particular country or region of note to be represented each year. This year the spotlight falls on Turkey. According to the LBF, the market focus programme serves to strengthen cultural bonds and educate the publishing community on literature around the world.
Turkey is represented by a number of delegates who will be delivering lectures and seminars throughout the week, introducing the work of Turkish authors to an international audience.
The Programme features 60 writers, 30 partners, and nine cities reaching over 30,000 people across the UK, and providing a platform for Turkish literature to grow.
At one of the opening seminars a panel of writers chaired by American journalist, Maureen Freely, discussed writing in a changing Turkey, and also revealed their hopes for the LBF.
“Both the UK and Turkey share a relationship, in that we both suffer with the ghost of an Empire,” said UK author, Maggie Gee. “But writers are free, and they celebrate literature, we are here to celebrate literature,” she told Arabstoday.
Gee revealed that she is currently working on a new novel, reviving Virginia Woolf in Istanbul, declaring the Turkish city to be a place of “transformation.”
Writers, Mehet Yashin and Müge Iplikçi, credited Turkey with becoming an amalgamation of different cultures. Iplikçi stated that: “Turkish literature has a universal appeal, we can explore a hybrid of multinational issues including gender and class.” The author added that Turkish literature should reflect the political upheaval and the revival and opposition of the Islamic movement across the Middle East.
Responding to a question from Arabstoday, both Iplikçi and Yashin admitted that Turkey is still finding its identity in the literary world. Yasin, who is a previous winner of the Turkish Cedvet Kurdret Novel Prize, admitted: “The main problem with Turkish literature is the Turkish definition of self.” He added that where as government censorship is an issue, the main issue is “censoring ones self,” as the Turkish language is “highly militarised and masculine.” Iplikçi agreed saying: ”Women, especially in this regard are in a quandary.”
Maureen Freely closed the opening talk, stressing her pride at seeing Turkey honoured at the LBF.
The conference continues until April 17.