Hakan Yaman meets his readers again with his fifth novel, The Silence of the Birch Trees which was published by his new publisher SİA Kİtap.
Your last novel, The Silence of the Birch Trees begins as a man realizes that he lost his wife while reading his newspaper at a Sunday breakfast. You like to write the story of pursuits. Why did you chose to make the readers go around in pursuit of a lost wife this time?
It is true that I like to write theme of pursuits in my novels. My first novel, The Wings of Israfel was about a mysterious book and the characters were searching this book. Suphi, the protagonist of The Woman in the Photograph is looking after a woman who he loses just after he takes her picture. There were more stratified, nested puzzles and the stories of pursuit in The Novelist.
In fact, themes of pursuit that the novelists are writing since Cervantes is not disconnected with life itself. Reading is a pursuit and so the writing. Life is a long story of pursuit. We are living in a world of pursuits since we are born. And we are usually seeking ourselves. I am talking about an aspect of pursuit of philosophical, scientific, and artistic which we require besides our basic needs. I don’t believe that mankind can live without searching.
Though the novel starts with a man searching after his wife, in a little while it focuses on a woman’s quest. How did you decided to probe and to decipher a woman during a period when women are suppressed?
Readers who didn’t read my novels before usually ask the question of what I write. And I simply reply their questions saying that I write the human being, the human relations in my novels. The initial material of the novel is human being. “A photograph can never be a good one without images of people,” said Ara Güler. Similarly, a novel can never be good a good one without people. I like to write strong woman characters as many as man characters in my novels. I have always been excited by the tough duration of creating brave and robust women characters like the lost woman figure, Suphi visualizes in time in The Woman in the Photograph, like Isabella Vitelli in Fall Scented Sins or Zahide in The Novelist. There is again a strong woman protagonist in the centre of my new novel. I like the challenge but besides, Emma Bovary, Sarah Woodruff, Clarissa Dalloway, and Anna Karenina have their hands in the pie.
The places and the cities become the hidden characters of your novels sometime. The story of The Silence of the Birch Trees begins in a small town and in a little while it goes away to an island in Aegean Sea. What is the meaning of island for you? If we remember the saying “Every person is an island”, whose island is the one where Macide goes to?
I am so much interested in the “place and novel” relation. İstanbul is a metropolis where I was born and grown up. I believe that she is the most beautiful city of the world. There are deep marks from this city and there are places which are not known even by many of the habitants of Istanbul in my novels. But I don’t like to be remembered as the novelist of a single city. Hence, I prefer to make my novels run in various geographies. I take the same pleasure either by writing Izmir and its environs or by writing Ankara or Lesbos Island.
Island is a very valuable topic that many theses can easily be written on. We are growing up reading books like Thomas More’s Utopia, Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels. There is an island at the core of all these books. Island has a fabulous meaning; it is evoking adventures. Besides, certainly it refers to a place of escape, a quest of a secluded life, an aspect of being alone. I am telling all about these in The Silence of the Birch Trees. Lesbos Island has the similar meaning for Nikos.
People are ignoring even their closest parents due to the uproar of daily life. And we continue living together with someone without knowing him or her well.
Time is not flowing like it used to be in the past. Technology and modern life have changed our senses while measuring the time. We reach more things faster and easier than before. Thus, we miss many things. Life is flowing so speedy and there are lots of thing that we should catch. So, we may not be able to be even with the closest persons to us and spend quality time with them in this rush. The world is undoubtedly passing to a new dimension in human relations. I assume that fellowships will diminish, the friendships will shift to virtual platforms and we will get lonelier. Solitude may turn into an epidemic.
The title of the novel, The Silence of the Birch Trees is related to the inner image of one of your characters in the novel. And you are writing your novels in an inner world that you generated separately from your professional managerial life. How do you balance those two different lives? What are the contributions of those to one another? And what will Hakan Yaman’s new quest be? What kind of a new book is awaiting your readers?
I believe that managerial life and authorship are supporting each other in a positive way. My business life allows me to be in various points of life, in different occasions and helps me to meet distinctive people. And all these potentials offer me opportunities to write contentful novels without falling into repetition. On the other hand, authorship enhances reflexes such as catching the details, self-discipline, empathy, and I can say that I am benefiting pretty much of all these abilities in people and relation management in business life.
Balancing two different lives is the hardest part of it. Sometimes you must become Clark Kent and sometimes the Superman. And it isn’t easy to make this transition in a short time like Superman changes his clothes in a phone box.
I am working on a historical fiction since a long time. I am writing the period of fifty years comprising three military coups in the recent history of Turkey. The period flows as I am narrating story of the novel. I am trying not use the period as a background but to place it to forefront in my novel. I presume that the period in point as Turkey paid heavy costs exceedingly deserves to be the protagonist of a novel by itself. I again read many books and make a lot of researches. Hence, the novel proceeds slowly. I wrote The Silence of the Birch Trees amidst this novel. Now I again concentrated on this novel that I left unfinished.