Extract

Letter from Anatolia: Issue 56

‘I don’t write for others, I don’t even write for myself, I just write,’ said Yașar Kemal, arguably Turkey’s greatest novelist. Roger Norman recommends his powerful novel The Undying Grass, which tells of the Yalak villagers who walk down from the Taurus Mountains each year to harvest cotton on the baking, inhospitable plains of Çukurova.

I’ve been reading Yaşar Kemal’s The Undying Grass and wishing he had been given the Nobel Prize instead of Patrick White in 1973. White was a remarkable novelist and did an excellent job in shocking the Australian establishment, but his books were too awkward and too particular to win prizes against the likes of Yaşar Kemal, who had everything it takes to be a national literary hero. Kemal belonged to an ancient storytelling tradition, was interested in the common man, knew the life of the villages, objected to privilege and its abuse, and produced a faithful record of the passing of the old Türkmen glories – a seminal passage of Turkish history that was also examined, in a different medium and from a somewhat different angle, by Turkey’s most celebrated cineaste, Yılmaz Güney, in The Herd (Sürü).

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Other Highlights from Cornucopia 56
  • A Life in Tents

    Peter Alford Andrews and his late wife, Mügül, set out to catalogue the traditional yurt – the ultimate portable dwelling. It became their life’s work.

  • Good Vibrations

    An exciting new spirit of creativity is flourishing in Yeldeğirmeni – once a place of windmills and construction workers. But will this vibrant neighbourhood of Kadiköy be able to maintain its delicate balance of old and new? Katie Nadworny reports. Photographs by Monica Fritz


  • The City of a Thousand and One Churches

    Today a ghost town in the middle of nowhere, a thousand years ago Ani was a bustling commercial city where East and West converged. By Robert Ousterhout. Photographs by Brian McKee


  • Aphrodite’s City

    No wonder Aphrodisias was the Emperor Augustus’s favourite city in Asia. Famed for its exquisite sculpture and unsullied surroundings, for Patricia Daunt it is the most beautiful site in the classical world


  • Jam Tomorrow

    In a chilly spring the apricot trees of Cappadocia were frothing with white blossom. By early summer the boughs would be heavy with fruit, to be eaten fresh from the branch, dried in the sun – or made into conserves like bottled sunshine for the cold winter months.

  • Turkey’s Wine Renaissance

    After a road trip like no other, taking in many of the best of Turkey’s burgeoning wineries, Kevin Gould and the Cornucopia tasting panel raise a glass (or several) and recommend the best of an impressive bunch



Other Highlights from Cornucopia 55
  • Puppetmaster of Pera

    Yusuf Franko Kusa used brush and pen and position to lampoon and pull the strings of Ottoman high society. Unseen for 60 years, his caricatures are now the subject of a fascinating exhibition in Istanbul, writes K Mehmet Kentel

  • The great defender

    At one time all roads led to Erzurum, a key stop on a great caravan route and a strategic bastion against invasion. Today it is a remote city on Turkey’s Asian frontier with an important history crying out to be discovered. In Part 2 of Cornucopia’s Beauty and the East series, the photographer Brian McKee continues his tour of eastern Anatolia in Erzurum as Scott Redford leads us from Turkic citadel to Mongol minarets.


  • Man, myth and mastic

    It was for centuries the preserve of sultans, extolled by the ancients, sought after in the harem, a staple of palace kitchen and pharmacy. More precious than gold, mastic brought fortune and fame to the island of Chios, today the world’s sole source of this ‘Arabic gum’. Now, thanks to a pioneering initiative, the Turkish shores across the water will be green with mastic groves. Text and photographs by Berrin Torolsan


  • Melting hearts

    An ambitious new work of classical music – based on Howard Blake’s enchanting score for ‘The Snowman’ – has just received its world premiere. This concert is just one of many achievements by Talent Unlimited, a Turkish charity that gives budding young virtuosi a helping hand. Tony Barrell tells the story. Photographs: Monica Fritz


  • Golden globes

    And the award for most versatile, most nourishing and best-loved ingredient goes to… the humble chickpea. Berrin Torolsan explores its history and its limitless talent to entertain us in a multitude of different roles

  • Citizen canine

    A fascinating exhibition at the Istanbul Research Institute that explores a dog’s life in Ottoman Istanbul and the transformation of attitudes as Westernisation takes hold