Author: inkandivy97

2016: A Year in Review (Part Two)

Part Two: I went to a talk by Elif Shafak, author of The Bastard of Istanbul, The Architects Apprentice and the soon-to-be-published The Three Daughters of Eve: Elif Shafak begins her talk at the Oxford Union by stepping off the stage to introduce herself, not waiting for any questions to be posed to her but anticipating them first, impatient to start. The controversial author – or at least controversial in Turkey, where she was prosecuted for her work ‘insulting Turkishness’– was born in Strasbourg to Turkish parents. Her parents separated soon after she was born and she was raised by her single mother, a diplomat and ‘secular, modern woman’ and her grandmother who she describes in her TED talk as ‘spiritual, less educated, less rational’, a woman who predicted the future from coffee grains. I have listened to many interviews with Shafak before, having loved her ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’ with its fairytale cast of characters and dark twist. Although she often speaks on the same theme, Shafak is never boring but as intriguing a …

2016: A Year in Review (Part One)

The books, music, films, places and people that made my year better. The Muse by Jessie Burton: I loved The Miniaturist but I think I might marginally prefer The Muse, which somehow manages to create an even deeper sense of mystery than its predecessor. Burton always manages to evoke so perfectly places and eras that are worlds away; in this novel the narrative moves from 1960s London to 1930s Spain and back again and it does so so convincingly that after reading it, I felt like I had jetted to Spain and recently visited the Skelton Gallery, spotting Peggy Guggenheim as I went. The story revolves around four women; in London, Trinidadian Odelle Bastien, a writer who works at the art gallery as a typist and her enigmatic superior, Marjorie Quick and in Spain, Olive Schloss, the daughter of two absentee parents and a secretive painter and Teresa Robles, a sixteen year old for whom just surviving was enough before Olive arrived in her life. The novel is really a story about art; what makes …

The Legacy of Trauma Is Love: Miriam Toews’ ‘All My Puny Sorrows’

Rachel Yehuda, a Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Mount Sinai New York, is the Director of Traumatic Stress Studies Division and studies epigenetics, looking not just at the effects that trauma can have on an individual but how the impact of trauma reverberates through the bloodline of that individual. Early in her career, she found that ‘gene changes in the children’ and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors ‘could only be attributed to exposure in the parents’ to trauma, to hunger, to persecution, to torture. In an interview with David Samuels she points out that ‘you’re three times more likely to respond to a traumatic circumstance by getting PTSD if your parent had it’. It is thought that 30% of children whose parents have served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. However, for Yehuda, as Samuels so eloquently puts it, a traumatic event often ‘switches on’ resilience itself. Yehuda believes in the ability of the individual to respond positively to the legacy of trauma they are left; in the Jewish community she saw an ‘overwhelming …

A Life Lived In Colour: Why Azar Nafisi’s ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’ Is Still Relevant Today

Azar Nafisi’s ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’, the story of an University Professor who resigned her post and began secretly to teach her seven students about Western Literature in her own home in post-revolution Iran, was New York Times Bestseller for one hundred and seventeen weeks. Critics argue that its depiction of everyday life in Iran is obsolete, but the message about both the power of literature and of the individual can never truly be ‘dated’. As I write this, I am wearing a tomato-red cardigan, a striped blue shirt, the colour of the sky on a bright summer’s day, lime-green socks. My hair is loose around my shoulders and mascara paints my eyelashes, earrings the size of pebbles hanging either side of my face. The women in Azar Nafisi’s ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’ – a book which is both a testament to the power of literature and the imagination as much as it is a testament to her seven students, her fellow readers – wear similarly colourful clothing. The book opens describing a photograph of …