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Like a Sword Wound by Ahmet Altan • 101

Looking for something a little off the beaten path for your reading pile? Join us as we discuss Like A Sword Wound by renowned Turkish writer Ahmet Altan (translated by Brendan Freely and Yelda Türedi). It’s the first volume in a quartet and traces not only the social currents of the final years of the Ottoman Empire but also the erotic and emotional lives of its characters.

The quartet spans the fifty years between the final decades of the 19th century and the post-WWI rise of Atatürk as both unchallenged leader and visionary reformer of the new Turkey, telling the stories of an unforgettable cast of characters, among them: an Ottoman army officer, the Sultan’s personal doctor, a scion of the royal house whose Western education brings him into conflict with his family’s legacy, and a beguiling Turkish aristocrat who, while fond of her emancipated life in Paris, finds herself drawn to a conservative Muslim spiritual leader.

Like A Sword Wound has been described as the Turkish War & Peace. Did Laura’s book club agree? In this episode we’re joined by journalist Philip Chaffee to discuss it.

Listen via the media player above or in your favourite podcast app.

Book recommendations

I Will Never See the World Again by Ahmet Altan

The Passenger magazine on Turkey

Beyond the Walls by Nazim Hikmet

My Name is Red and The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk

Laurence in Arabia by Scott Anderson

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

We also mentioned authors Elif Batuman (and her book The Idiot) and Elif Shafak.


Luxuriate in the cultural bath that is Europa editions.

In April 2021 Altan was released from prison: read more here.

Don’t miss

Why are we such Ahmet Altan fans? Listen to our episode on his prison memoir I Will Never See the World Again to find out.

If like us you enjoy listening to Phil, check out the first time he joined us on the pod to talk about Normal People by Sally Rooney.

Over to you

Any fellow Altan enthusiasts out there? Let us know what you think of this writer and his work. Also tell us your favourite Europa Editions books, we’re always on the hunt for recommendations. Comment below.


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