Sun, Sep 10, 2006 - Page 9 News List

`Bastard' pits Turkey against itself

Europe's governing body is watching which way Turkish courts will jump as author Elif Shafak is prosecuted for insulting her nation

AP , ISTANBUL

Later, a radical Armenian-American blogger who goes by the name of Lady Peacock/Siramark writes: "Do you think [the Turks] are going to say: Oh yeah, we are sorry we massacred and deported you guys, and then contentedly denied it all."

Turkey insists that the mass evacuation and deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenians during World War I was not a planned genocide. Labeling it as such can be considered a criminal offense.

The book has sold 60,000 copies since it was published -- considered a big hit in Turkey, where readership is low.

The daughter of a female diplomat who raised Shafak alone -- her father left when she was young -- the novelist said that she first became aware of the Armenian issue after Armenian militants killed dozens of Turkish diplomats across the 1970s and 1980s.

"My very first acquaintance with the word `Armenian' was so negative, it just meant someone who wanted to kill my mother," Shafak said. "I then started to ask questions, `why so much hatred against Turkish diplomats? What is behind this?'"

She does not take sides on the genocide debate, but criticizes Turkey for what she calls a "collective amnesia" of the atrocities.

"Turks and Armenians are not speaking the same language," she explained. "For the Turks all the past is gone, erased from our memories. That's the way we Westernized: by being future-oriented... The grandchildren of the 1915 survivors tend to be very, very past-oriented."

The English version of The Bastard of Istanbul is to be published next year.

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