My favorite things Turkey

1. Novelist: Orhan Pamuk.  My favorite books by Pamuk are the ones rooted most firmly in Istanbul and Turkey, namely The Museum of Innocence and Istanbul and also Snow.  Those are some of my very favorite books, period.

2. Non-fiction book, set in: There is Runciman and Kinross and Stephen Kinzer.  Is the Osman book good?

3. Movie, set in: From Russia With Love and Topkapi come to mind; my knowledge of Turkish cinema is weak.

4. Opera, set in: The Abduction from the Seraglio, maybe the Beecham recording, or Krips, plus I like the overture of the Harnoncourt version, much more Turkish-sounding than the others.  And I don't have to tell you my favorite Rondo.

Uh-oh, suddenly there is too much Orientalism in this post.  Reverse course!

5. Favorite recording showing the unities behind Turkish and classical music: Istanbul, Dimitrie Cantemir, by Jordi Savall.  Quite the revelation and it makes you wonder how well we understand the true story of classical music.

6. Singer: Tarkan comes to mind and he is well represented on YouTube.  There is an entire strand of Turkish popular song, in the direction of Sezen Aksu, YouTube here.  But overall my pick is Edip Akbayram, imagine a Turkish version of Tropicalia.

7. Economist: Dani Rodrik, Daron Acemoglu, Timur Kuran, and Faruk Gul are the best-known Turkish economists I can think of.  I believe Nouriel Roubini was born in Turkey but I don't think he counts as Turkish.

8. Music mogul: Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records.

9. Classical pianist: I still have mixed feelings about Fazil Say, who is very subjective with the score.  Idil Biret has some good recordings of romantic music and piano transcriptions.

10. Cynic: Diogenes, who in a few ways was an early version of Robin Hanson, though I am not suggesting Robin is a cynic in the lower case sense.

The bottom line: Textiles and the decorative arts weigh in as strong additional positives, but I wish there were more Turkish writers I liked.  


Eric Ambler's Light of Day is a superb mystery and could do with so much better than Topkapi.

What? No Turkish delight?

I believe you mentioned that you were coming to Berlin next? Will you be doing any public events?

"And I don't have to tell you my favorite Rondo." Straight, or a la Brubeck?

No Turkish food on your list of favorite things Turkish?

Perhaps Diogenes is Turkish in the sense Troy, to which the Greeks laid
siege in Homer's "Iliad," is Turkish. (I have not verified the second
point but that is my strong impression.) Turkey has probably changed more
radically than many other nations since those times.

Diogenes was Greek. I'm just saying. "The Turks began migrating into the area now called Turkey in the eleventh century" (wiki).

For movie, I`d recommend "The edge of heaven" by Fatih Akin. Touching.

What about Timur Kuran in (7)?

Music :

..and do not forget MY NAME IS RED by Pamuk. I think it's the best novel of one of the greatest contemporary novelist.

You didn't mention MPP.

I'm heading to Turkey in three days, so look forward to piggybacking off many of the sharp Istanbul / Turkey comments on the blog.

Kinzer is always an informative and efficient read on any number of subjects -- Turkey, Guatemala, Nicaragua or otherwise.

Mercan Dede is lovely electro-sufi as far as music. His album "Su" is vaguely aquatic in theme.

"Valley of the Wolves: Iraq" is a great film snapshot of certain Turkish attitudes toward the US (and other select groups) at mid-noughties, if you can get through the stilted acting, cartoon plot and stereotypical characterization (the latter is part of the reason to watch it, though). I made it through the first hour or so.

Read: Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar and Oguz Atay
Listen: Baris Manco, Mazhar Fuat Ozkan
Watch: Eskiya

No Turkish Star Wars?

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typical american stupidity: "my favourite turkish cynic is Diogenes".

For a good start on Turkish folk music played in a composite style, you should check this video:

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