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The Naked Orientalist

The Turkish Life of French Sailor and Writer Pierre Loti: A Novel

James Barrie

Published by Severus House

£10.99 / $14.22 / €13.06
($/€ approx)

Paperback, 252 pages, published March 2022
Book Description

Pierre Loti, a young French sailor, arrives in Salonika to witness the hangings of several Turks at the harbourside. He takes shore leave and behind the bars of a window by the mosque, he spies a young Turkish woman. He disguises himself as an Albanian and begins a love affair with this woman who he calls Aziyadé but whose real name was Hatijay. The romance continued in Constantinople that winter and ended when Loti got his orders to sail in March 1877. This was the beginning of his successful career as a writer and his lifelong love affair with Turkey.

Jonathan is an English language teacher in Istanbul in the late 1980s. When he discovers his flatmate Harry dead in the bath, the word ‘Loti’ written into the grime of the tiled wall and the book Aziyadé left open on his desk, his life takes an unexpected course.

Orhan, a young tea boy, encounters a strange foreigner dressed like a Turkish pasha accompanying a carriage carried through the streets of Constantinople. The carriage contains his aging guardian Khadija. He follows the group to the cemeteries beyond the city’s ancient walls, their destination: his mother’s grave.

The Naked Orientalist combines both historical and contemporary chapters to explore Loti, his Turkish lover Hatijay and his first book Aziyadé.

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