the short story project

My Istanbul

Constanze Neumann On:

My Istanbul by Emine Sevgi Özdamar

This story starts on a ship that emerges from the night like a myth and ferries the reader to Istanbul. How distant this city seems, with its alleys flooded in moonlight, its errant crazies and stray cats; though it feels as strange as a Middle Eastern fairytale, Özdamar describes her childhood and the roots that tie her to this place with a fierce kind of love.

Emine Özdamar has lived in Berlin for many years now, but her heart still holds the Istanbul of her youth, that city split not just by the sea, but also by religion and culture. Moving between worlds like a sleepwalker, her descriptions are cast in a language that is all her own, capturing in words things that others can only marvel at. For Özdamar, language is limitless, a medium that can bring the far-off close. After the story’s intoxicating journey through an Istanbul suspended between yesterday and today, the reader takes the ferry back to more familiar shores, their way lit by the ever-present moon.