Writing is the journey that is so unknown

Author Nedim Gürsel in front of readers with his novel Son Yolcu. Gursell says, “You may have a project or design when you start writing, but when you write, that text creates its own reality and takes you away.”


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Oguz Alkan

Of man The purpose is thisPerhaps one of the problems he failed to address was dealing with the past or trying to explain himself. Considering how prone we are to our own side, we can argue that any narrative about the past deserves some consideration. His latest novel, The Last Traveler, with Nedim Garsell, which contains various autobiographical elements, is a fictional text where autobiographical elements predominate, but the author does not claim objectivity. We had a pleasant conversation with Nedim Garsell about The Last Passenger, the city and the place.

Oguz Alkan: We have a text that draws on mythology, geography and history and connects them and his personal life. According to your definition in the book, it is a genre between autobiography and fiction. First of all, would you like to define and explain this clause a bit?

Nedim Gursel: The Last Passenger is my new novel. A novel where author Deniz is at the center of Kaki’s narrative. But it is also a breakdown in the life of author Nedim Garcel. For this reason, there are also autobiographical elements. We can call it autofiction, we can translate it into Turkish as self-fiction. I accept the Turkish equivalent as fiction. It is also called editing, but editing is the equivalent of montage. The point here is self-imagination.

It is not easy for the reader to determine where the autobiography ends and where the fiction begins. This is the kind of diversion that the author offers to the reader. In that sense, we are faced with a self-deprecating text. It’s not exactly autobiographical. Because the autobiography is like an agreement between the writer and the reader. The author promises to tell the reader the truth about his own life. He may not tell all the facts of his life, but what he says must be true. But this is where fiction comes into play.

On this occasion you are avoiding this responsibility …

Yes, another species originated here. I tried it, your point is correct.

An interesting thing for me is: the author of the book, Deniz Chacki, will be coming to Istanbul soon and will be shooting with French television. There was also a situation you reported to me while trying to set a date for our interview with you. In other words, you said you would come to Istanbul for a short time and shoot with French television. In this case, it has been an interesting experience for me.

Here’s what happened: When I was writing The Last Passenger, I didn’t get any recommendation from French television. I totally imagine this. I thought that if Nedim Gursel’s documentary and Nedim Gursel’s Istanbul were shot with a television crew, I could also criticize today’s ideology of victory in the novel. Oddly enough, I received this documentary recommendation a week before The Last Passenger was released. It was a kind of prophecy or prophecy. The point of attraction, which I have tried to describe in the novel as fiction or conjecture, has come true. Sometimes that happens. The stories told in the novel can be felt in real life. Let me close this bracket now. Now let’s come to another topic.

Reaching the age of one, I wanted to make a break in my life. Of course, this is a very difficult thing. You can’t cast your whole life. You can’t go into all the details. Previously, I have tried to make a list of my childhood in my novel ‘Selim Bir Kavusak’. My “Captain’s Son” novel is basically a break from the boarding day I went to high school in Galatasaray. But in The Last Passenger, I wanted to break down some kind of balance sheet. I wanted to talk about the geography that determined me and some of the events that affected me.

AI would like to get on track and ask: Can we say that the main content of the book is a father-son conflict, considering it is a kind of autobiography? On the other hand, a journey between Istanbul and Paris. Maybe we can consider it as exile. And of course, the various historical and geographical elements with all this …

I have an account with my father because my father Orhan Gursell was a French teacher. I lost him at a very young age. He died in a car accident at the age of 38. He was translating something from French. He translated Henry Troit’s Lying Light, as I explained in the novel. Then I dreamed that in Paris she was dying at the hands of her boyfriend, I put it this way in the novel… the father’s character is important to me because I didn’t recognize him very well. As if I continued his unfinished business. If it weren’t for that, I don’t think I’d be a writer either. I remember what he typed on his typewriter. He bought himself a Remington typewriter. Then I started writing with that typewriter. So, I tried to build the past with this kind of material.

Deniz Chuckie spoke not only to the living and to the dead, but also to his lover, Songul, or his wife Penelope, of Greek descent. She talks to her mother Emin Chakir and she talks to her father Derin Chakir. So there is a dialogue that goes back and forth. But there is a dialogue that takes place not only in reality, but also in other worlds, and there are references to myths. Greek mythology is important to me, especially the image of Odysseus. Odysseus is a personality I am familiar with. In this case, I can say that I prefer Odysseus more than Iliad. The female figure waiting for Penelope is in the novel. In Odysseus’ repatriation novel, Deniz’s job can be perceived as returning to his homeland.

I think from this metaphor of “returning home” we can connect with the songul character. Sangul is a character that writer Deniz Chakar met at the Diarbakir Book Fair. A love affair begins between them, but this relationship seems to represent some of the newly discovered problems of geography and your ideas in this context.

The Last Passenger actually speaks of a journey that took place on the Paris-Istanbul route. Deniz Çakır is the man who made this journey. Since the author Deniz Chacki also wrote a travel book, he has visited many countries and even has memories of the countries he flew to. In other words, Swiss airspace, especially Paris, is a direct witness to the Sarajevo blockade of Serbia. During the bombing in Sarajevo, he described his impressions in his book, Back to the Balkans. He also has a journey where he discovers Eastern Anatolia and Kurdish identity.


Sangul’s response to the Deniz job: “You can see what’s happening in Balkan geography, but you can’t see what’s happening in your own country.” He has a critical speech. If we go back to the beginning and consider the autobiographical character of the narrative, is it self-criticism?

I don’t know if it can be defined as self-criticism. Because a writer cannot be the owner of all lawsuits and all political issues, but he can take a position. And his works may have a message about this attitude. But in the end it is a novel, an autobiographical novel. Of course, there is some self-criticism here. Because I lived it. Such a warning came to me. But I never thought I would be able to write a novel based on it. Because writing is an unknown process. You may have a project or a design when you start writing, but when you write, that text, that description creates its own reality and takes you. Like the Tigris River. That’s how the relationship between Songül and Deniz Çakir took me.

In one of your interviews, you said that you first experienced a forced deportation and then voluntary deportation. Between Istanbul and Paris. Can you open a little here? At the very least, I think readers want to know something about the essence of your own exile.

My trip to Paris was not a choice at first, but a necessity. I graduated from Galatasaray High School in 1970. After graduating from school, there was a memorandum on March 12 and at that time, People’s Friends Magazine was published. I wrote an article in this journal, published by Ataol Behramoğlu and smet Özel, and wrote a review of Lenin and Gorky, and the investigation was started against me because the prosecutor demanded 12 years imprisonment. Because of an article… Then I went to Paris. When Ecevit came to power in 1973, a general amnesty was issued. My case also fell. Therefore, I have been able to go to Turkey for seventy three years. But I continued my studies in modern French literature at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Then I saved my PhD.

After defending my PhD in comparative literature, I returned to Turkey. So I had no desire to stay in Paris. This time Kenan hit Everest. On September 12, my book ‘A Long Summer’ was confiscated. Dr. accused of insulting the state security forces. However, when I was a young writer with this first book, I received the award from a very important organization in 1976, when I was twenty-five years old, and this award was given to me by the then President, former Admiral Fahri Koruturk. Despite this, a case has been filed against me for insulting the army. After that, I returned to Paris and settled there. So it wasn’t a choice at first, it was a necessity. Then it turned into an election. Now I can often go to Turkey. But I have become a little Parisian.

How do you evaluate the point that Turkish literature has reached today? Do you have any authors to follow closely?

Of course there are, but I can’t say that I follow young writers too much. I got to know more writers of my generation and my earlier writers. Sait Faik, for example, impressed me a lot. I tried to enter his world. I wrote a book about it, “The Author of Loneliness.” I worked on Nazim Hikmet, wrote a review. Ece Ayhan was a poet that was interesting to me. I tested it. I have followed the writers of my generation closely. Enis Batur, Mario Levy, Nekati Tosunar … I can name many more. But because of my job, I no longer do pleasure reading, but do homework reading. For example, I read a lot of Diyarbakir books to include Diyarbakir in The Last Traveler. Therefore, I cannot follow young writers as closely as they deserve. But let me make an observation. There are several women writers. A Hallid Oedipus has been known since the Republican era. Among my previous generations, names like Leila Erbil, Sevgi Soysal, Gulten Akin can be counted. But I see many women writers of this new generation. I think this development is positive. As a male writer I am curious about the world of women. Sometimes the look I give them is masculine, if not misogynistic. Because of this, I think seeing their world enriches and develops me.

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