Elif Şafak honored at French Embassy
ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Writer Elif Şafak (R) was presented with the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by French Ambassador to Ankara Laurent Bili at a ceremony. DHA Photo
The French Ambassador to Ankara Laurent Bili has presented the “Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters” (Chevalier dans l’Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres) to Turkish writer Elif Şafak for her contributions to intercultural dialogue and human rights, intellectual studies, and freedom of thought.
At the ceremony held at the French Palace, Bili noted that the “Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters” was a very significant award and was given to those who make contributions to literature and art in France and throughout the world.
In his speech, Bili told Şafak that “the personal cosmopolitan route, the arduous and humanist discipline, interblended with Sufism and Ottoman culture has doubtlessly affected your works.”
Bili mentioned Şafak’s earlier works “Pinhan,” which brought her the “Great Rumi Award,” and “Şehrin Aynaları” (Mirrors of the City), a book published in 1999 that told of the historic interaction between Islam and Judaism.
He also said that Şafak’s “Baba ve Piç” (The Bastard of Istanbul) bewitched many people throughout the world, including France.
It was the bestselling book in 2006 in Turkey.
“Because of the sections of the book about the ‘Armenian Genocide,’ a case was opened against the book. Happily, the claim was given up, but I know how deeply you were affected. Those hard times didn’t discourage you from working on the subconscious of Turkish public,” the ambassador said.
After his speech, Bili presented the award to Şafak.
Şafak said she believed she had a special readership and that she received many letters from them. “The award is so precious, authorship is an isolated profession, but awards help me have a connection with the outside world,” she said.