GREECE/TURKEY – Interview with translator Paula Darwish
Welcome to the Intralingo World Lit Podcast, featuring authors and translators from around the globe.
Children of War, by Ahmet Yorulmaz, translated by Paula Darwish
Some years ago, I visited an abandoned city along the Aegean, where I learned for the first time about the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923. It was perhaps the most unsettling place I’ve ever been.
When I heard about Children of War, by Ahmet Yorulmaz, I couldn’t wait to read it. And then speak to translator Paula Darwish.
“It's very simple book, isn't it?” Paula comments. “There's nothing heavy in it, in a way. Although the topic is tragic, it's very simple. But it's thought provoking. … The best thing about it is, because it's told through a child's eyes, he's just sort of taking things on the surface, saying, "Well, come on. I'm a Cretan. Then how come I was a Cretan and now I'm supposed to be a Turk?"
Based on diaries, the novel reads like an oral story, told by an old man remembering his childhood. It’s full of sensual details: the tastes and smells and textures of home.
Ahmet Yorulmaz devoted his entire career as a journalist, translator and novelist to rapprochement between Turkey and Greece. In Children of War, he offers an engaging, sensitive glimpse into a profound historical event.
Paula feels proud to have translated this book into English, to represent it and what it represents.
“The thing that I'd like people to take away from it is to sort of question our conceptions, if you like, of identity and who belongs, where those perceptions came from, and how long you have to be somewhere before you're not seen as a sort of immigrant.”
Thank you to Neem Tree Press for the review copy.
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. In 2015, she was invited to attend the Cunda International Workshops for Translators of Turkish Literature, where she participated in a collaborative translation of the works of Behçet Necatigil. Her submission from the novel Savaşın Çocukları by the late Ahmet Yorulmaz won a prize in the 2015 PEN Samples Translation Pitch competition. In 2017, her translation of the short story Uzun Kışın Suçlusu by Demet Şahin was part of the 10th Istanbul International Poetry and Literature Festival. She has also translated some notable non-fiction works, including a bilingual catalogue of the buildings of the famous Ottoman architect, Sinan. She is a qualified member (MITI) of the Institute of Translators and Interpreters.
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.
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