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Elif Shafak’s Endangered Status

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The New York Times’ Julie Bosman gets a hold of Turkish writer Elif Shafak on her one and only American stop – a tour curtailed from six cities to one as a result of the murder of Hrant Dink, a prominent Turkish newspaper editor of Armenian ancestry and a close friend of Shafak. It also didn’t help that Shafak herself was on trial for “insulting Turkishness,” a charge that’s nabbed Orhan Pamuk (though both he and she were acquitted.) “A writer is always more than a writer in Turkey, much more so than in America,” Shafak said. “We don’t discuss the writing, but we discuss the writer herself. Eventually, every writer has to face the question- are you ready to be a public intellectual?”

She’s also wondering if she’s ready to write again after the recent birth of her first child. “After giving birth, I couldn’t write for a while,” she said. “The novel is such a selfish genre, and novelists are self-centered people. You live with those characters you create. When you are raising a kid, you can’t be selfish anymore.” Which might explain her thoughts on a potential new novel. “I think it will be, in a way, about a withdrawal into a cocoon. That’s how I feel right now.”

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