We pick 6 literary tributes to Istanbul, from a history of Constantinople to a literary trail through the city by Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk. Even though, Istanbul is an inspiring city with its amazing landmarks, natural beauty and the Bosphorus that inspired lots of songs, paintings, photographs and books, it is also more than what is told. However, here is the list you can experience Istanbul between the lines without any hesitation. We are ready to tell the story when you come here, even so you are free to discover beforehand.
Hilary Sumner-Boyd and John Freely, Strolling through Istanbul: A Guide to the City, 1972
Perhaps the definitive but nostalgic guide to Istanbul. Detailed but never boring, we walk through Istanbul in the company of informed and engaging guides who clearly love the city themselves.
Edmondo de Amicis, Constantinople, 1878
One of the most enjoyable accounts of the city ever written, full of teeming life and startling contrasts… Yes, times have changed since 1877, but this complex and vibrant portrait of the city remains recognizable, especially in the magical Grand Bazaar.
The book describes the Grand Bazaar as:
“One of the most splendid bazaars is for shoes … The walls are stacked with slippers; in velvet, in leather, in brocade, in satin, in the most startling colours and the oddest shapes, embroidered with filigree, glittering with sequins, decorated with swansdown and silk tassels, starred with flowers in gold and silver"
(1858- Grand Bazaar)
Yaşar Kemal, The Birds Have Also Gone, 1978
A short, beautiful novel from one of Turkey's best-loved writers and lovingly translated by his wife, it centers on the idea of gaining grace through kindness to all living things by the old practice of releasing birds captured specifically for the purpose.
Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul, 2003
The Nobel Prize winner recalls the Istanbul of his youth. Atmospheric black-and-white photos contribute to his depiction of hüzün ― a particularly Turkish form of melancholy.
Elif Şafak, The Bastard of Istanbul, 2006
From one of Turkey's most popular writers, the bestseller that is by turns magical, informative and heart-breaking as it brings together the turbulent past and the complex present.
Jim Hinks and Gul Turner (editors), The Book of Istanbul: A City in Short Fiction, 2010
A recent collection of translated stories from 10 leading Turkish writers, each with a different take on the city. A slim volume, but full of insights and surprises.
Türker Armaner, one of writers, invites us into his neighborhood, Yeldeğirmen, Kadikoy.
"My steps took me to Yeldeğirmen … I started to wander through the narrow streets. Washing was drying on lines hung between opposite buildings. Sheets, stockings, underwear, shirts, black primary school aprons were hanging side by side, as if protecting the banished soul of the neighbourhood."