My family is very feminist, and they consider that Islam is not a super feminist religion, which I know people can argue about. But that's - anyway that's how I was brought up, so it would be odd for me to suddenly just up and start wearing a headscarf.
Actually, I've taught creative writing in Turkey, at an English language university, where the students were native Turkish speakers, but they were writing their essays in English, and they were very interesting - even the sense of structure, the conventions of writing, the different styles of writing.
I felt grateful to Ataturk that my parents were so well educated, that they weren't held back by superstition or religion, that they were true scientists who taught me how to read when I was three and never doubted that I could become a writer.
Even in novels where the love relationship isn't the focus, I feel like it's often there, and the background is some barometer of whether this is a happy or sad story or whether this is a successful or unsuccessful life.
When I was growing up, many of my relatives had never seen a black person before. Today, hundreds, maybe thousands of Africans live in Istanbul's old city alone. It's hard to imagine their lives in their human totality.
I grew up hearing that if it hadn't been for Ataturk, my grandmother would have been 'a covered person' who would have been reliant on a man for her livelihood. Instead, she went to boarding school, wrote a thesis on Balzac, and became a teacher.
You base your actions on a projected ending, which you actually don't know. However, when you reach the crucial point, and the pinnacle event doesn't occur, you just need to go on, and something else will happen.
My parents were educated in the Turkish system and went straight from high school to medical school; my mom, who had skipped a grade, was dissecting corpses at age seventeen. Growing up in America, I think I envied my parents' education. By comparison, everything I did in school seemed so sort of low-stakes and infantilizing.
Why is there an end of the year? Because the calendar imposes numerical order on time. There is a natural fitness in the celebration of the New Year, a holiday of numbers imposed on things, with lists, as well as with Advent calendars and songs like 'The Twelve Days of Christmas.'
It's possible to watch 'Gone Girl' and feel that you have seen something terribly bleak. But it's also possible to receive it as good news. Any powerful articulation of the need for change is also a testimony to the possibility of change.
The book that made me decide to go into Russian literature was 'Anna Karenina,' which I first read in high school. The thing that appealed to me and constituted its Russianness for me was that it was simultaneously incredibly funny and sad.
I have always known my mother as an agnostic, less certain than my father that the universe hadn't been created by some great intelligence. But she would get even more annoyed than my father did when she thought that people were invoking God to do their jobs for them - for example, when she saw a bus with a sticker saying 'Allah Protect Us.'
If you are in a breakup, you might as well go all the way and spend the summer in Samarkand, with no air-conditioning, learning a language you have no use for. At least it adds some romance to a depressing situation.
It's kind of an embarrassing story - that's why it's called 'The Idiot.' But looking back at your past self, you see that this person had reasons for everything she did. There's a whole lot of awkwardness, but really, what should one be embarrassed about?
Tolstoy didn't know about steampunk or cyborgs, but he did know about the nightmarishness of steam power, unruly machines, and the creepy half-human status of the Russian peasant classes. In 'Anna Karenina,' nineteenth-century life itself is a relentless, relentlessly modern machine, flattening those who oppose it.
From an early age, my favorite thing to read was novels. For years, when I was writing only nonfiction, still I was reading almost exclusively novels. It's weird to be producing something that you don't consume. It feels really alienating.
Much as there are things about our own life stories that we can learn only from the systematic study of our dreams, there are things about the human condition that we can learn only from a systematic study of literature.