Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Geert Mak's Slice of Istanbul Life
What makes Mak's book so good is that he has talked to the shabby, poor, sometimes desperate street vendors and fishermen on the bridge as well as providing a brilliant pocket history of modern Turkey in general and Istanbul in particular. These voices are what makes the book and he lets them speak in ways that some of the classic travel writers don't always manage to pull off. It's a short book but an excellent one and makes me want to read his longer book about Europe, In Europe. Everyone travels now, it is said, and so travel writing doesn't work any more, because we have all been there. It might be true that the old 'traveller's tales' are harder to get away with but there will always be a role for the writer who travels with eyes and ears open and some real historical knowledge. Geert Mak is one of them.