Doris Lessing, whose death recently left behind a bleeding wound in today’s literary scene, once claimed that “Unhappy childhoods seem to produce fiction writers…” By sharing this quote on Twitter, Elif Shafak initiated a discussion about the truthfulness of these words. Lessing’s statement certainly applies to many cases, also in Turkish literature. However, there seems to be at least one exception: Nazlı Eray.
In an interview with TRT Türk, the much appreciated writer describes her childhood as a very happy one. She grew up as an only child in a home full of love, enjoying the pleasant company of her parents and her grandmother. Being a cheerful girl by nature, Nazlı Eray made experiences in her early days she will never forget. While there are surely numerous novelists who created unique stories by writing their way out of a sorrowful youth, with Nazlı Eray it might have been the contrary: Her joyful memories probably contributed to her highly imaginative way of writing that fascinates readers of all ages.
At the age of 16, Nazlı Eray wrote her first short story entitled “Monsieur Hristo” which opened her doors to the contemporary literary world. In this short fiction work, her parents’ janitor was not only immortalized, but – thanks to her colourful imagination – turned into a bird, flying over Turkey. Having been translated into 15 languages, her short story travelled the world and made her readers think about what their life would be like if they could look down on it from a bird’s perspective. Life’s path led her from short stories to novels and later also to children’s books, giving her the chance to create a fantasy world for young and old alike.
Did Nazlı Eray’s happy childhood have an impact on her way of approaching literature and on her writing style? Maybe. At least one thing is sure: Her stories have been creating a magical universe full of miracles, absorbing her readers entirely. In no way can her works be called “classic”. Just wait to be surprised! As Nazlı Eray once said herself: “The best novel is the one you cannot control. It advances by itself, flowing like a river, and I can jump into it wherever I want.” This once so happy child has become an adult full of positive energy, generously sharing her good mood. Thank you, Nazlı Eray, for waking up the happy child in us with your magical stories!
Paris, 22.11.2013 Mine Krause