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.  


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