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Towards Turkish American Literature

Narratives of Multiculturalism in Post-Imperial Turkey


Elena Furlanetto

The author expands the definition of Turkish American literature beyond fiction written by Americans of Turkish descent to incorporate texts that literally ‘commute’ between two national spheres. This segment of Turkish American literature transcends established paradigms of immigrant life-writing, as it includes works by Turkish authors who do not qualify as American permanent residents and were not born in the United States by Turkish parents (such as Elif Shafak and Halide Edip), and on novels where the Turkish and Ottoman matter decisively prevails over the American (Güneli Gün’s «On the Road to Baghdad» and Alev Lytle Croutier’s «Seven Houses»). Yet, these texts were written in English, were purposefully located on the American market, and simultaneously engage the Turkish and the American cultural and literary traditions.

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This book, this research, this enterprise as a whole would not have been possible without my parents, who, during a hard period of their life have offered unfailing and selfless support for dreams that others in their position would have dismissed as frivolous. I would also like to thank Elisa and Franca, who also never failed to support me and made sure I never ran out of high-quality Italian coffee | Questo libro, queste ricerche, questa impresa nel suo complesso non sarebbero state possibili senza i miei genitori, che in un periodo arduo delle loro vite hanno offerto il loro costante e disinteressato sostegno a sogni che altri, nella loro posizione, avrebbero ritenuto frivoli. Voglio anche ringraziare Elisa e Franca, che mi hanno sempre sostenuto e hanno fatto in modo di non farmi mai mancare niente, soprattutto il caffè italiano.

I am infinitely grateful to everyone who saw something in me and gave me a chance – a most wonderful and rare gesture. In primis, my Ph.D supervisor Prof. Dr. Walter Grünzweig and my second reader and postdoctoral mentor Prof. Dr. Barbara Buchenau. But also Andy Jones, who gave me my first job in Germany: a small step towards adulthood in this country.

I am grateful to my colleagues at the Technische Universität Dortmund and, later, at the University of Duisburg-Essen for sharing their invaluable inputs – over and over and over again. Their thoughts are woven in the texture of my book. Those who took the time to read and patiently comment entire chapters deserve a special mention: Thank you Dietmar, Georg, and Mario. I owe much to the anonymous reviewers who helped me put my material in shape for publication, I have learned a lot from you. Thank you Barbara, Courtney, Dietmar, and Zohra, for having taken such good care of me, you are my academic family. I look forward to many years of inspiring conversations and shared projects.