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Ali and Ramazan Paperback – April 3, 2012
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The Amazon Book Review
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Question: What inspired you to write this story?
Perihan Magden: Ali and Ramazan is based on a true story. I first met these boys as third page news in a rather short article. Then, three more short news items depicting their tragic ending followed. They were forgotten, nobody. Two orphan lovers--gay street-boys, a male hustler and a glue sniffer--who cares? I couldn’t forget them, but it took me many years to go back and read the papers again and write about them. No writer would dare to make up such a tragic end (unless you’re Shakespeare, but no one is).
Q: Is there any character you most identify with? Why?
PM: I take that restlessness within me and magnify for my character--namely Ramazan. The impatience, the aggression, the anger--I know about all those, though through association.
Q: In 2008, the Turkish Writers Association awarded you the Grand Award of Freedom of Speech. As an outspoken writer in Turkey, what challenges have you met with? What keeps you in Istanbul, where writers may not be as free to express their views as in some other countries?
PM: All through my column-writing years I was sued. Keeping you coming and going to and from the courts is the Chinese-torture-strategy of the Turkish "justice" system. Any court case takes years to resolve, and they threaten you with many at once--at least that’s what they did to me. I’ve received many prison sentences for my essays, but they have all been postponed or converted to fines.
I left my column three years ago, but wrote a couple of essays recently for a daily called "Taraf," and right away I was sued by Erdogan--our prime minister--for two articles. He accuses me of "Insult"--and mind you, Turkey offers prison sentences for that! Anything can be regarded as an insult by Turkish judges--for instance, a Jay Leno joke. Everything is open to interpretation and that is unnerving.
I still live in Turkey because I am scared of being the "foreigner." I’m already a foreigner in my own country and that much is enough for me to deal with. Also, I want to live where I excel in (my own) language, and where I can read people inside and out. When I was seriously threatened by the fascist mob after writing a column defending conscientious objection (I was tried and acquitted) I considered moving abroad to New York, a city I knew as a young woman. I looked at some homes on the internet, but I can’t now -- it's too late to start over.
Q: What books would you recommend to Amazon customers?
PM: Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles--this is a pearl of a book--an all times favorite! My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike by Joyce Carol Oates, Waiting by Ha Jin, Last Evenings on Earth by Roberto Bolano, and Seduced by Madness by Carol Pogash. I am a true crime addict; rarely are they this well-written, or this enlightening--for the sociopaths are taking over. It’s an epidemic.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is no easy book to read. It is crude, harsh, and intense. The main characters are orphans in the city of Istanbul, thrust out onto the streets at age 18. One a prostitute, the other a glue-sniffer, they scrape by and it's hard to imagine how. The descriptions of this life build in intensity. At first, the sexual acts are alluded to only, but as the book progresses, they grow sickeningly more realistic - so that the reader viscerally experiences them along with Ramazan, the main narrator of the book. And let me be clear, it didn't turn my stomach because these characters are gay. Their encounters with each other are beautifully written, touching. It is what Ramazan must do to support himself, the disgust described in his own words and senses.
But despite all the darkness in this book, somehow there is something pure and bright about the love between Ramazan and Ali that kept me turning the pages, hoping they would find a way to be together. I kept exclaiming aloud, in shock, horror, but couldn't stop reading until I had finished - all in an evening.
The story unfolds in the orphanage in filthy conditions and with limited provisions. This is largely the fault of the administrator who lives as a tyrant with his family. "Master" is an abusive husband and a pedophile, but Ramazan has learned to use his attractiveness to gain favors from the administrator. He hates himself for it but has sex with and manipulates the alcoholic man. Ali is comforted by Ramazan's leadership over himself and the other boys in the orphanage, but is jealous of his sexual relations with the Master.
Over time, Ali and Ramazan become lovers at the initiative of the smaller boy. Both seem to increase in beauty as they develop, and the other boys leave them alone due to Ali's growing physical strength and Ramazan's dominant personality. Time goes by slowly in the orphanage but the turning point approaches when both boys reach the age of 18 and are turned out into the mean streets of Istanbul.Read more ›
This is a stunning story, simply told without a lot of dynamics to the writing style. I found it difficult to judge as the author lives in a very different culture, and the writing style was not as polished. This is also what makes this novel so amazing. It is a tragic gay love story set in a most unlikely place. The characters, as well as the author, are courageous and true throughout, not wavering in who they are no matter what challenges they faced.
Kudos to the author for telling this story! A very worthwhile read.
Very good book but the translation could be more professional.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really haven't read many Turkish novels, just one or two Orhan Pamuk, I believe this one to be close to real life on the streets, very depressing for those with nothing and a... Read morePublished 5 days ago by F. Grabowska
I cried it was an amazing story. I would recommend this as a good read.Published 6 months ago by Chris G.
I was expecting this to be in the line of Mohammed Choukri and Abdellah Taia's writing. While I don't wish to essentialize Middle Eastern/Northern African writing on queer-topics,... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Michiel Baas
This was actually the worst book I've ever read.
I am a gay male and thought this story would have some feelings, emotions, or even ideas I could relate to. Read more
A quick read--having been to Istanbul gives a picture of the seedies side of the city than what I saw.Published on August 1, 2014 by srd
Horrible story about 2 orphaned boys in some 3rd world country (I don't remember where). It was so vulgar & disturbing that I couldn't finish it. Read morePublished on June 20, 2014 by Nina LaQuino
The book tells a story about the bad experiences, problems, loves and struggles of two homeless orphan kids in a realistic view. Read morePublished on December 20, 2013 by ozkansari
this book had an awesome premise, orphans, Turkey, relationships, but the strange ending really left me unsatisfied. Read morePublished on November 12, 2013 by Carrie Emrikson
It is a sad story about some very desperate young orphans-turned adult in Istanbul but it is not very compellingly written.Published on October 10, 2013 by Deborah Leenutaphong