Sadık Yalsızuçanlar's Malatya

Born and raised in Malatya, Sadık Yalsızuçanlar is a popular short story writer and novelist in Turkey. He described his hometown for Skylife readers.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind at the mention of Malatya?
The Andalusian Arab sage Ibn Arabi and his student Konevi, Niyazi Mısrı and Malatyalı Fahri, two of the leading lights of traditional Turkish poetry, and of course the big, juicy apricots, the ‘pestil’ (big sheets of dried grape pulp), ‘simit pilaff’, tarhana, içli köfte (stuffed meatballs), the enormous cabbages, the cornfields, Pınar, the quarter of Çarmuzu, the Istanbul and Melekbaba movie theaters, Topal Abdo’s lament in the film ‘Carve my Grave of Stone’, Battal Gazi, Ahmet Turan, Cüneyt Arkın, my father, my uncle…

How has the city of your birth affected your life?
To a large extent a person is his childhood. How could it not affect me? It still does. I look back and write impressions of my childhood years. My dreams, my disappointments, my memories… They are all part of my experience.

How has Malatya inspired your novels and short stories?
First of all, I have been inspired especially by the tens, the hundreds, of films I watched in my father’s summer and winter movie theaters. I am starting to describe the warm, genuine and sincere people I met as a child and in my early youth, the friendship they shared, the city’s vibrancy, the houses with their arbors, eyvans (large vaulted halls) and flat earthen roofs.

What would you recommend to somebody going to Malatya today?
He should drink tea at Kernek, he should definitely try the various kinds of meatballs: içli köfte, sıkma köfte and ekşili köfte served in an egg-lemon sauce. He should visit the apricot orchards and the cornfields, he should see Battal Gazi and the Great Seljuk Mosque, he should definitely go to Beylerderesi…