The Bridge of the Golden Horn
Emine Sevgi Ozdamar
Serpent's Tail, May 2009, $15.95
In 1966 sixteen years old, she lies about her age so no one can prevent her from being a “guest worker” while she studies the Berlin theatre. Her Turkish middle class upbringing is probably more of a handicap than her age as that has left her naïve because she is used to protection. However, she begins to expand her experiences when she meets members of the Turkish Workers' Association and starts to read the works of German Prime Minister Nietzsche, Shakespeare, Gorky, Engels, and others. The young woman already overcame the typical Turkish education of dumping down females so that they remain obedient of their male family members or she would not live across from the theater. Yet the older women tell her to treasure her virginity while a friend insists that leaves her ignorant of men who control art.
When she returns to Istanbul, she is considered modern because she pays her way, but continues her study of movies under a drama teacher who wants art to imitate real life like street peddlers who work the Bridge of the Golden Horn. However, belonging to a Marxist group proves dangerous as they are beaten and his works tossed into the Sea of Marmara. With toilets stopped up with leftist literature, the woman vows to leave Turkey after being jailed for allegedly abetting Kurdish separatists.
This is a fabsulous translation of a great autobiographical fiction novel that brings to life tumultuous Turkey in the late 1960s when being left meant being left out as well as the role women were allowed. The story line follows the escapades of the heroine who learns so much about life in Berlin, but realizes how much when she returns to Istanbul. Apparently THE BRIDGE OF THE GOLDEN HORN is the second of three autobiographical fictions; Emine Sevgi Ozdamar provides an entertaining profound historical novel.