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Ahmet Altan: All opposition writers are jailed, I am only novelist in Turkish jails

Ahmet Altan’s novel “Son Oyun’ (The Last Game), has been published by the publishing company “Edizioni E/O” under the title “Scrittore e assassino” (The writer and The Assassin.) The “La Stampa” news paper, has published a critique of Altan’s book by Marta Ottabiani but also an interview with Ahmet Altan — currently in prison since the 23th of September — that was transmitted to the Newspaper by the intermediary of his lawyers. Altan declared in his message that “in turkey there are currently more than 140 jailed journalists. As far as I am concerned, I am the only novelist who is in jail in Turkey and Europe. Turkey is going through a period in which all opposition writers are jailed. For the moment being, I am focusing on writing more in jail and waiting for positive news about my novel “The Writer and the assassin.”

Here are Altan’s answers to the questions transmitted to his lawyers:

–Dear Altan, in your book the main character does not have a name. The town where he comes from also does not have an name. We can understand that the novel takes place in Turkey only because of other characters’ names, the food, the drinks etc. Why did you make such a choice?

Altan: Because the events that you encounter in this book are psychologic and political clashes. They are caused by jealousy or desire. They are nearly universal events that happen everywhere. That is why I don’t use any specific names.

–There is an interesting understanding of God in the book. The main character speaks without hesitation to god. It really surprised me that you used a church rather than a mosque despite living in a Muslim country. Why did you make such choices?

Altan: A writer sees God as his most main co-worker. It doesn’t matter if the writer believes in God or not. Like God writers also create, so they have a special relationship with God. That is why I thought that it was fun and even normal for the writer in the book to talk to God.

–In your novel different groups are in opposition to each other and are in a struggle. Is this situation comparable to the one of Turkey?

Altan: Yes, for sure these two situations can be compared. A lot events that are similar to the events in Turkey also take place in the novel.

–Right now you are in jail like many other intellectuals and journalists. So before anything, how are you holding on? Secondly, if you need to describe the current situation in Turkey, how would you describe it?

Altan: Currently, there are more than 140 authors in jail. As far as I am concerned, I am the only novelist that is currently jailed in Europe and Turkey. Turkey is going through a period of time in which all opposition writers are jailed. We don’t know how long this will last.  For the moment being, I am focusing on writing more in jail and waiting for positive news about my novel “The Writer and the assassin.”
T24 – translated by Denizalp Goktas

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