Sunday, April 8, 2012

Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read woman writer in Turkey. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

From a Q & A at her publisher's website:

You have a reputation for being a very outspoken writer. When you write a novel, do you approach it as a vehicle for making a particular statement, or is this a secondary concern?

I do not approach the genre of the novel to make particular statements. I do not write with a mission and I do not try to teach anyone anything. I believe literature needs to be fluid and free as flowing water. I like the fact that different readers read the same book with different interpretations.

There is a split between the writer in me and me in my daily life. When I write fiction I almost become a different person. It is as if you use a different part of your brain while writing. When I am writing fiction, I am much more daring and inventive. The only thing that matters is the story. The ghosts of dead writers watch me as I write and I feel connected to an old, undying heritage. That keeps me going. I solely follow the footsteps of my imagination. How can imagination be banned?

I believe writers and literature can play an important role because literature and art have an amazing transformative power. Writers and artists can help to heal old wounds and transcend the boundaries that people on all sides take for granted. At the core of literature lies the ability to empathize with others.

While you advocate the freedom of intellectual thought, do you believe there should be any limitations on freedom of expression, and what do you see as the role of a writer in this debate?

I see freedom of expression as a universal value that should be defended in each and every country. The only thing I am cautious about is hate speech. Discourse that triggers racism, violence, xenophobia.

You were born in France, educated in Spain, and have lived and worked in Turkey and now the United States. How do you find living abroad has affected your writing?

All my life I have...[read on]
Read about the book that changed Elif Shafak's life.

--Marshal Zeringue