Talking is a form of therapy. It gives comfort to the body and soul. Keeping it silent… especially being forced to keep it silent is torture. As French historian, Alain Corbin states, however, silence does not simply mean the absence of noise. Our inner voice accompanies us all the time10. The book in your hand is a culmination of an effort of a group of people who liberated themselves from the centuries-old burden of their silence (ketumiyet) and shared their experience with the outside world. They heard their inner voice and made it heard by others despite all the difficulties. The stories told in the interviews are narratives of a colorful community that emerged after the famous messianic movement of Sabbatai Sevi at the end of the 17th century and survived its enigmatic multiple identities until the present day. Today, it is more of a society rather than an organic community since most of the old ties among the members of the community have disappeared a long time ago.
Today we talk about Daddy, why do they call us dönmeh?, a book by Suzan Nana Tarablus published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author Suzan Nana Tarablus, to get to know her better, where she found the inspiration to write her book Daddy, why do they call us dönmeh?, as well as what are the crucial themes of her work
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- Where did you find the inspiration to write this story?
“Daddy why do they call us Dönmeh?” is my fourth book. The three previous books: “One morning I woke up in Galata”, “Boatman row to Balat”, “My Kuzguncuk journey through generations” are also oral history studies covering the stories of people who have lived in ancient Jewish quarters of Istanbul, their memories, relics and family inheritance. I have taken care to reflect what it means to present oneself as a Jew in the public arena, from daily life practices to political behavior. I was inspired with the followers of the 17th century Messiah Sabbatai Sevi, the Dönmeh minority because previously they rejected all interview offers of others. Being a first was a challenge for me to talk to the Dönmeh, who have kept their reticence since their forced migration from Salonica.
- What are the crucial themes of your work?
The crucial themes of my work are the mechanisms of survival and adaption of excluded minorities. The commonalities within each minority group which bring about adaptation and survival are fascinating. This acknowledgement brought forth the amazing richness of the human fabric.
- What do you want to communicate to readers with this work?
I wish to share with the readers that oral history has a contextual richness for transferring suppressed ethnic memories which sustain our day-to-day lives.
- How did it feel to see your book published?
The birth of a book is always an excitement and joy for me. Every one of my books carries forth another layer of shared experiences to add to my heritage.
- Are you planning to write more books?
Following “Daddy why do they call us Dönmeh?” I have already published my fifth book “I lived to tell” which is in the process of being translated into English. It covers the memoirs of a family in the period between the First and Second World Wars and the events in the Balkans after the war. This narrative is a lived experience, a family adventure in the triangle of Bulgaria – Greece – Turkey. Like every event that has taken place in the Balkans, the story of this family and the people around them is part of Turkey’s recent history. I will continue to write.
Europe Books thanks the author Suzan Nana Tarablus once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside her on the editorial path that led to the publication of her book Daddy, why do they call us dönmeh?. We wish her the best of luck for her future works.
To you, my dear reader, I wish this book will provide you with food for thoughts to reflect upon and will capture your curiosity and keep you glued to reading page after page so much that you don’t want to close it.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy your reading!