Buket Uzuner’s travelling fountain pen

Turkish writer Buket Uzuner always knew that she wanted to become a writer. It was her mother who introduced her to the art of storytelling at a very early age, making up colourful tales about all dishes her daughter didn’t like and the clothes she didn’t want to wear. In the 1960s, she showed her a stamp with a picture of novelist Halide Edip Adıvar… a key moment for Buket Uzuner that made her decide to become a writer to also get a photo of her head printed on a stamp one day. Of course, this was only a child’s vision of what such a life would be like. Today’s priority lies elsewhere: It is the fact that stories bring people from different cultural backgrounds together which probably fascinates her most about being a writer. However, maybe her interest in women’s rights could still be traced back to the feminist Halide Edip Adıvar.

Born in 1955 in Ankara, Buket Uzuner studied molecular biology and environmental science. A cosmopolitan at heart, she attended universities in Turkey, Norway and the United States before her career took an entirely different turn. Being fond of discovering the world, Buket Uzuner has always enjoyed travelling around, including places in North Africa, North America and Europe. It goes without saying that her fountain pens are not always waiting for her on a desk in one particular city. They often accompany her from continent to continent, always ready to be used whenever and wherever she needs them.

With Buket Uzuner, literature travels across geographical borders… and also across literary genres. Ranging from novels and short stories to a biography, travel writing and essays, all kinds of readers can find something they identify with in her works. In an interview, Uzuner states that we are all the same, leaving us without the need to create an “Other”. “Literature must bring us together, not force us apart”, is her idealistic way of defining what literature’s role should really be. Today’s constant longing for categorization by determining differences has never worked for Turkey because – situated between East and West – it does not seem to belong anywhere in particular. What makes this country so unique is a diversity that resists all labeling attempts. In this world of contrasts Buket Uzuner succeeds to build bridges through the magic of words.

Many of Uzuner’s works have been translated (not only) into English, among them The Sound of Fishsteps (Balık İzlerinin Sesi) and Mediterranean Waltz (Kumral Ada- Mavi Tuna). Her passion for travelling is surely contagious. Read I am Istanbul and I guarantee you will book your next flight to Turkey: “I am Istanbul, city of cities, mistress of metropolises, community of poets, seat of emperors, favorite of sultans, pearl of the world!”

© Mine Krause


Buket Uzuner’s travelling fountain pen

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