ISTANBUL — Through a series of colorful stories, Migirdiç Margosyan explores the city of Diyarbakir, Turkey as it existed in his childhood.
Published in 1992 for the first time and received a great deal of attention, Migirdiç Margosyan’s cult book is now in English. Through a series of colorful stories, complete with a snuff snorting midwife, a simple-minded church caretaker, and a superhuman blacksmith, Migirdiç Margosyan explores the city of Diyarbakir, Turkey as it existed in his childhood. It was a time when the city was still home to a diverse population of faiths, languages and characters, resembling what New Yorker Staff Writer Raf? Khatchadourian calls a kind of “Anatolian Macondo.”
Introducing his birth place and region, Diyarbakir which left its mark in Armenian and Kurdish cultures, and daily lives of ordinary people especially in ‘40s and ‘50s, Margosyan leaves both a sweet and bitter aftertaste through his peculiar humor and storytelling. In Infidel Quarter, a world in which history is in part a story and stories are in part history glances at us through the doorway.
“In my writings, I told about our neighborhood as I saw and lived. I presented the characters and names almost as they are, without making any changes. Most of them, those sisters and uncles, must have passed away already. I wanted to cherish their names and memories in these lines, in these books…”
Margosyan is a native of Diyarbakir and a popular, award winning author. At the age of 15, he was sent to Istanbul by his family, so that he could learn his mother tongue, Armenian, better. He made a great success with his stories and books in Armenian. His works include “Mer Ayt Goghmere” (1984), “Söyle Margos Nerelisen?” (1995), “Biletimiz Istanbul’a Kesildi” (1998), “Dikrisi Aperen” (1999), “Tespih Taneleri” (2006) and “Tanri’nin Seyir Defteri” (2016).
The current title, Gâvur Mahallesi, was first published in Turkish (1992), then Kurdish (1999) and now appears in English (2017). Especially after ‘90s, he reached a larger audience with his books in Turkish. He is considered as the last living and most successful representative of Armenian country literature.
Published in Partnership with Gomidas Institute (London)
From the book:
“Allahu ekber, Allahu ekber!..”
When the Muezzin Nusret, whose huge nose had turned the color of tomatoes in the cold, came back down the minaret, Uso was still pulling on the church bell rope with his short rotund body. He was secretly glad that Muezzin Nusret had given up and come back down the minaret. The sound of the church bell continued to ring out, ring out far away. It caused all sorts of confusion as it reached the frozen ears of every Armenian.
“What’s going on Bedo? Who would be ringing a church bell at this hour?”