Selda Yeşiltaş | Pencere Magazine
01 Ekim 2011
“While a novelist fictionalizing life with more details, with the points that many others observe but ignore, he/she shows us the face of the life, we have missed as a movie. Yes, we are living but living by missing many details. There the novelists are the collectors who do not miss the details concerning the soul of this life.”
What is the smell when you open up the cover of a book? Smell of paper or ink? You stumbled. The smell that comes to your noise from Hakan Yaman’s books is abundantly literature. God whispers the secret of life to your ears in the Wings of Israfel, you become Suphi and quest for love in the Woman in the Photograph. The truth of love’s being a quest interrupts you but you won’t give up. Fall Scented Sins takes you to a different world. Sometimes you become Alfredo, you feel your friend and your beloved in your body, oppressed with grief,, sometimes you become Isabella, you watch the diffusion of the sin into your veins under the captivity of passion. These three works which take you to three different worlds bring you to a common point: lives settled down by descriptions. Hakan Yaman has no show off. He certainly has something to tell but he tells it without shouting, with a naïve fiction. Each of his books becomes a slap in the face. Finally, you can not resist and go out to Beyoglu and find Hakan Yaman walking to Tunel. While you put the questions in your mind in a row one after another, he replies your questions one by one with a light in his eyes. Hours pass and you leave the table without getting enough but with bunch of words in your pocket. We have put all these words on papers in case they make you heavier and slow down your walk and help you to find Hakan Yaman somewhere in this interview.
Where do you see yourself standing in your journey of authorship?
I am still at a preliminary stage. I hadn’t started to write late but I had joined the world of literature a bit late. I write since 1985. I had a break in 90s. Then I began to write again in 2000. My first novel, The Wings of Israfel had released in 2007. Then a year later The Woman in the Photogrsaph had been published. I had won the Yunus Nadi Novel Prize with this novel in 2009. In 2011 The Fall Scented Sins had released. I am still the beginning stage. I can not say that I am standing where I had wished to be with three novels. I didn’t write my best novel yet.
Where does your passion of literature come from?
It was always in me. Starting with the classics in junior high school days I had read in every stages of my life. The year when it first sparkled and I heard a voice saying, “It is time to write” was 1985. I was deeply influenced by the classics I read in high school days. Then I began to write. But reading never stopped after I started to write. I still regularly read books. Novel was always my favorite form in literature.
You don’t only write novels, you also have regular job. Moreover, you work very hard. How do you succeed to use time so efficiently in this rush?
I think over time so much. Time is a phenomenon that I read and study on. It is a fact that today’s man has problems with time. But it is possible to overcome this negativity by a little effort and by learning to manage time in a proper way. I think that I succeeded to do this to some extent. The problem is based on this: We usually can not manage to use 24 hours of the day properly. We are either lazy, we complain about having not enough time or we can not settle our choices properly. We even lie to ourselves and hide behind the excuse of not having enough time to do things we do not really want to do. If you can schedule your day efficiently I don’t think that time will trouble you.
Can you tell us a bit about your new project?
The name of my new novel is “The Novelist.” I will try to explain inner world of a novelist and his adventures. Fiction is not fully set in my mind. Therefore, I do not want to give more details, because everything changes in time. I sometimes scatter around either like many other authors. I have experienced this on my previous novels. Sometimes the final I had written became utterly different that what I had planned previously. I like it this way because I also get curious while writing.
How did you feel when you won Yunus Nadi Novel Prize with your second novel (Woman in the Photograph)?
I was very happy. Authorship in Turkey is more matter of spiritual satisfaction. Today none of the authors in Turkey live in mansions with swimming pools like in USA. Only a few lines of critics written by a reviewer or few words that we hear from a reader is enough to please us. Winning a prestigious award becomes a driving force besides the spiritual satisfaction. I was very glad to win such an important award with my second novel. I had started to see the authorship in a different way after that day. You don’t really understand what is going on when you are writing your first novel, because there are uncertainties. You don’t even have the guarantee that your book will be published. In your second novel you start thinking whether you will get it through or not. Seeing the appreciation for my second novel gave me a big motivation for my future works.
Do you think that this prize could raise your reader’s expectations?
I do not have a wide crowd of readers in Turkey yet. Many books are published and there are many authors. Shortly we read less we write more. The literature communities in Turkey might have expectations but not the readers. I don’t think that the awards have big influence on readers. Awards have broad repercussion in literature communities. We don’t see any increase in the sales of the award winning books in Turkey. And the best sellers are usually the books never come closer to the awards and the ones that literature communities usually sniff at. Therefore, I don’t think that literature awards interest the readers much but the expectation of the literature communities from me might be increased.
The readers in Turkey are already quite few in number. Moreover novel readers are lesser.
There aren’t few readers in fact. Certainly they are few comparing to Europe but I witness that book fairs are crowded. There are so many publishers, book stores, book cafés are everywhere. I see more books on people’s hands in the streets than I used to see in the past. There is an obvious crowd of readers. But what are these crowds reading? It is important to have the answer of this question. Yes, reader is not reading novels. When they want to read novel they go for the best sellers. Book shelves are under the domination of marketing strategies. The books of the authors who work with their private promoter are sold. The styles of exhibiting of these books are even different than others. You can’t even find other books even you search in the book stores. Readers do not buy the books without any ad and the books do not exist in a visible place in the stores. These manipulations affect Turkish readers pretty much. Other books, stay out of these manipulations are unfortunately not read. And also too many books are being published. Today 350-400 novels are being published in Turkey every year. There are very few literature magazines and very few magazine readers. Book additions of the newspapers are also very few in number. These are mainly read by the authors. Finally, the readers are not directed accurately.
Some people also believe that novels have no contribution to them.
This is a big mistake. There are severe differences between writing the real life and fiction. For instance, a true story that is told in a history book can never be expressed as deep, as fully as it does in a novel. It can never be expressed so real, so saturated that it will show life with all details to the reader and make him live in that very moment as it does in the novels. And the reader can never understand what life really is with only history, research and science books. People can only learn new things on a certain subject by reading these books and that can never be enough by itself. While a novelist fictionalizing life with more details, with the points that many others observe but ignore, he/she shows us the face of the life, we have missed as a movie. Yes, we are living but living by missing many details. There the novelists are the collectors who do not miss the details concerning the soul of this life. Novelists collect the essences in life like a bee and they explain you once more your own life. Main subjects of the novel are human beings and human relations. I mean the life itself. Today women are reading novels more than men. Most of the men see novel reading as the danger of an extreme sentimentalism, overdose romanticism and leaving off being masculine. They especially avoid reading the novels written by women. This situation became a fact that manipulates the authors. Therefore, many authors try to write novels targeting woman readers today. There aren’t only women or men in life. I am in favor of expressing life with all balances and sometimes with unbalances. When these are the facts in novel, the case in the story is worse. The stories are almost never read. However, we have a very strong story tradition in Turkey. I always say this. It is harder to write a good story than a good novel. You have plenty of time in the novel but you have to give everything within few pages in story. We have a strong story tradition reached to peak with Sait Faik and Hadun Taner. But unfortunately almost all of our story writers emulated to write novels because of the fact that stories are not read. But story and novel are two different disciplines. Novel is never a long story. Therefore, many authors confined themselves to become bad novelist once they use to be good story writers. There are some good novelists among them but very few.
How much of your books are fiction?
All the content of my books are fiction. There are surely some traces from me, because I write them but Im am not a kind of novelist who likes using autobiographic elements in his novels. Autobiographic novel can be written. This won’t cheapen the novel but I want to avoid it. For example, there is no trace from me in Fall Scented Sins, narrator is not me either. When I am trying to tell a story by putting my own experiences, my accumulations, my view, some fragments from me are mixed up in the story. This dose is enough. I don’t think that the reader will be anxious about what kind of a person I am. My voice should stay away as much as possible. The author’s voice shall sound in the novel but shall not shout. While author makes himself heard with low volume or even by whispering his fiction must become prominent. Authorship is such a thing. There are a nineteenth century narrator and Isabella who wrote the diary in my last novel but not me. Isabella’s diary and narration of the narrator was engaging and sometimes contradicting while I was writing. And I was watching the fight between them form a distance. It was a very pleasant writing process for me.
Yes, there are some parts in the novel where the narration of the narratır and Isabella’s are contradicting. To whom we must believe?
I had left the edge of two things open in this novel. First one was the answer of the question of to whom we must believe in this contradiction. Second one was the final of the book. I wanted the readers to complete novel in the two parts as they like. And in the final of the book he/she who the reader wants will die.
My feeling in the final of the book was that the pistol had fired but no one had hit due to Alfredo’s naïve nature and his love to his wife…
This was the final very few people around me had thought. I don’t know it either. Therefore, I can not say that he or she died. This was the fourth option. Alfredo could commit suicide, he could kill Isabelle or his friend Nicolo. A bullet with no target was an option thought by very few people. This was also in my mind while I was writing this novel. Reader will choose one of these options in the final of the book.
If the real final is the fourth option, then there could be an occasion for a new book, because if you finish the book with the fourth final, an unfinished reckoning is exposed.
Isn’t life so either anyway? Therefore, my novel could finish in this way. Life ends with many unfinished reckonings either. Nobody has a chance to say, “I am finished everything and came to the final” while passing away.
Psychological states of the protagonists of your novels create fluctuations which constantly force human brain. Psychological aspects are dominant in your novels. Is this deliberate choice?
In fact, the fluctuations are always in life. Life does not proceed on a straight line, road goes by divaricating. Therefore, we all obliged to make many decisions all along our lives. Some of these are right, some are wrong decisions. But suspense is always there. What Suphi, Alfredo or Isabella had felt is this instability.
Suphi’s rudeness against the woman he dated in the hotel in your novel, The Woman in the Photograph… Does Suphi’s id come up there?
Yes, definitely the suppressed emotions come up there. There is also a primitive drive of chasing there. This can be the case in people like Suphi who has got some sexual problems.
We can often see descriptions in your books. Descriptions could bore the reader when extremely used. But it never becomes boring in your book. What do you owe it?
This comment had forwarded to me by my readers through internet. This was one of my main reservations when I started to write my first novel. My literary taste goes parallel with the descriptions. Description is the tomate paste of the novel. It becomes heavy if you put too much and tasteless if you use it less. I think my gusto of description had been reflected to my novels.
Seven deadly sins are standing in line in the book. Why the name of the book is Fall Scented Sins?
The novel is in fact a two protagonist story. First Alfredo, then Isabella begins to found guilty. The reason why the name of the book is Fall Scented Sins is that the novel stands in the center of one of the seven deadly sins. Sin is an issue that is very close to the notion of religion. Isabella’s fornication could be accepted as normal today but it was a great sin in those days, especially among the Italian Levantines who believe in Catholic Church. Isabella commits adultery twice and she does this to her husband Alfredo on a journey to the seven holy churches with the participation of a priest. This dignifies her sin. And this sin of lust which is one of the seven deadly sins stays in the center of the Fall Scented Sins which begins in an autumn day and ends by returning the same day after the flashbacks to a journey to the Seven Churches went on an autumn many years ago.