Sema Kaygusuz’s Bozcaada

Sema Kaygusuz and her books have prompted leading literary circles in Europe to say what a shame it is that more people don’t know Turkish. This month the writer describes for us her beloved island of Bozcaada.

How did you come to know Bozcaada?
I first went to the island in 2003. I’ve always had a special interest in islands and I fell in love with Bozcaada the minute I saw it. Actually it was the grapes that drew me there, because wherever there are grapes, olives and figs there is civilization. The oldest civilizations were founded in such places.

Besides grapes, what else is synonymous with Bozcaada in your mind?
The giant wind roses, each one named for a woman, the barren hills, the narrow streets, the houses like little boxes, and the vineyards. And of course the architecture and the unique cultural blend of Turkish and Greek.

Bozcaada in winter... What does that mean to you?
Islands are a meeting place between man and solitude on the one hand and a full inner life on the other. And so is Bozcaada. When you are there you have to adapt to nature’s laws but savor nature’s beauty as well. To my mind the winter months are the best season for discerning the island’s true sounds and colors.

What would you recommend to people going to the island?
I would recommend walking along the shore and listening to the people. If you approach the island not just as an ordinary touristic place but with love and you try to understand it, it will definitely reward you with its beauty.