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  • Writer's pictureCaroline

Turkey - I Will Never See the World Again

I Will Never See the World Again, by Ahmet Altan (translated by Yasemin Çongar) Originally published 2018


Setting: Turkey

In 2016, Turkish author Ahmet Altan was arrested in his home. His crime: loosely defined charges of 'putschism', 'spreading subliminal messages' and 'supporting the coup' because he was seen to criticise governmental corruption on television. In 2018, at the age of 68 and with very little process he is given life in prison without parole. In this short collection of writings, smuggled out of prison, he writes from a small desk as he ruminates on his destiny to remain caged in a four metre long cell for the remainder of his life.

More than just a prison memoir or an insight into the severe failings of Turkey's legal and penal system, this is a powerful ode both to writing and to reading. Writing allows Ahmet to tell his story and project his shouts far beyond the walls of the prison. Reading transports him beyond his confines to places and worlds of his choosing. The translator, Yasemin Çongar, takes delicate care in transfiguring Ahmet's words into English, translating each essay in a single sitting so she could accurately convey his experiences and immerse herself in feeling 'his courage and strength at a time when [she] couldn't see him'.

'...I possess a confidence that grows like a pearl within the hard shells of literature. I possess an immunity; I am protected by the steel armour of my books.

I am writing this in my prison cell.

But I am not in prison.

I am a writer.

I am neither where I am nor where I am not.

You can imprison me but you cannot keep me here.

Because, like all writers, I have magic. I pass through your walls with ease.'

Ahmet went on to write a novel ('Lady Luck') while still in prison. He was finally released in 2021 after over 4.5 years behind bars.


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