Archive for July 2012
July 2012, TimeOut Istanbul (print edition only)
REVIEW: From Balat to Bat Yam: Memoirs of a Turkish Jew, by Eli Shaul, ed. Rıfat N. Balı, trans. Michael McGaha & Istanbul Was A Fairy Tale, by Mario Levi, trans. Ender Gürol
From Balat to Bat Yam: Memoirs of a Turkish Jew
Eli Shaul grew up in an Istanbul where Turks, Greeks, Jews, and Armenians gathered in coffeehouses and taverns to exchange jokes, stories, and plenty of non-hostile ethnic or religious taunts. In his Istanbul, neighborhood news was declaimed in the streets by public watchmen, Kâğıthane was a wooded picnic destination, and fires were extinguished by mobile pumps that volunteer firemen carried by hand.
Shaul was born into a Turkish Jewish family in 1916, in the last embers of the Ottoman empire. He came of age as the Turkish Republic struggled through its own turbulent adolescence, characterized by ugly rashes of nationalism, rebellious urges in different parts of the country, and spurts of growth toward a multi-party system.
Through Shaul’s eyes, these changes manifested themselves in the increasingly discriminatory treatment he encountered as he grew up.