Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Children of War by Ahmet Yorulma, translated from Turkish by Paula Darwish.
Ahmet Yorulmaz was a Turkish a journalist, author and translator. He was born in Ayvalik to a family of Cretan Turks deported to mainland Turkey as part of the Greek-Turkish population exchange decreed in the Treaty of Lausanne. He was fluent in modern Greek and translated novels and poems from contemporary Greek literature to Turkish.
Most of his original works were written with the aim of making people learn about Ayvalık, the city where he grew up. He dedicated himself to Greek-Turkish friendship and rapprochement.
About the Translator
Paula Darwish is a freelance translator and professional musician. She read Turkish Language and Literature with Middle Eastern History at SOAS in London graduating with a First in 1997. She is a qualified member of the Institute of Translators and Interpreters (MITI).
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About the book
Hassanakis is a young Muslim boy of Turkish descent growing up on Crete during WWI. Fifteen generations of his family have lived on the island and until now he has never had any reason not to think he is a Cretan. But with the Great Powers tussling over the collapsing Ottoman Empire and the island’s Christians in rebellion, an outbreak of ethnic violence forces his family to flee to the Cretan city of Chania.
He begins to lay down roots and his snappy dress earns him the nickname of Hassan ‘the mirror’. As WWI draws to a close and the Turkish War of Independence rages, he begins a heady romance with
the elegant Hüsniye. There are rumours that the Cretan Muslims will be sent to Turkey but Hassanakis can’t believe he will be sent to a country whose language he barely knows and where he knows no-one.
My bad, I had no idea the history of Crete was such a geo-political minefield and that the migration associated with it was so complex. A powder-keg of two national identities and religions who live together peacefully, until pot-stirrers looking for power and acknowledgment stoke hatred, which sets the two against each other.
Hassanakis is a young boy, a Muslim boy of Turkish descent who only knows peace and friendship between the Turks and the Cretans of Greek descent. His father starts to speak about rumours of dissent and trouble aimed at anyone of Turkish descent. His fear and paranoia seem to be pulled out of thin air, as he uproots his family to head for a safer location.
The violence they and others encounter leaves a permanent stain on the family as they find themselves in the middle of ethnic violence. People who have lived on Crete for many generations and yet now find themselves without jobs, businesses and homes. They are targeted, attacked, raped, murdered and those left living become displaced persons.
It’s historical, geo-political fiction or rather a fictional family in the midst of a factual historical setting.
One of my favourite things about this book is the conversations it can generate. After reading it I had a chat with a fellow book enthusiast about the history, so the author achieves both a story and a history lesson at the same time. Now that may not sound interesting to some readers, but it does serve an important purpose.
In times where the curriculum can no longer fit every single bit of history in and the history of the country you live in supersedes the majority of other countries history – many important moments get lost. The kind of important historical moments that help to explain old animosity and scars, conflicts that are often continued over decades and centuries.
It’s a fascinating story of upheaval, displacement and national identity.
Buy Children of War at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Neem Tree Press; pub date 26 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.