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.

I grew up thinking that it was immoral to idealize the past because, in the past, there was slavery and no penicillin.

When you started looking at the life of Tolstoy, there was so much passion and anger and drama surrounding him.

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 read that nobody should ever feel ashamed to be alone or to be in a crowd, I realized that I often felt ashamed of both of those things.

When in doubt, it is better to do the less conservative thing and to err on the side of the more colorful, possibly terrible mistake. That comes from thinking of yourself as a writer.

The novel is like a melancholy form. It's about some kind of disillusionment with the way things are versus the idea of how they could be or how they used to be.

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.

You can't invent something you have no epistemological access to. In a way, it's all recombination.

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.

Russian literature got me interested in what literature means.

There are very few things that I have any patience for that are not at least a little bit humorous.

Lists are based on realism - on the coldly contemplated finitude of resources.

By the time I got to college, the Cold War was basically over.

Anyone who has ever tried to plot a detective mystery knows that the hardest thing to come up with is motive.

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.'

Awkwardness is the consciousness of a false position.

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.

A lot of what I write is very personal.

I've developed this love of trashy Russian literature. There's a women's detective series that I was obsessed with for a while, written by Aleksandra Marinina, the former chief of police.

At the beginning of 'A Christmas Carol,' Scrooge embodies one of the central tenets of depression: that one has always been this way - and always will be.

My family is not only not religious, but my parents are both - they're secularists. My father is actually an atheist and feels very strongly about it.

Soccer is taken extremely seriously in Turkey.

I like to think that I know a lot of words, but I definitely don't know all of them.

The first thing I tried to write was a novel, when I took that time off in grad school. Then I didn't finish it. I went back to school, and then I started writing nonfiction kind of by accident.

Many books have changed my life, but only one has the word 'life-changing' in the title: Marie Kondo's 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying.'

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.

The first time I held an African drum in my hands was at Koc University in a forest in the northern suburbs of Istanbul.

As a novelist, you write about social mores, but not everything can be explained.

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.

Read enough about the dung beetle, and a picture of its character emerges: patient, optimistic, uncomplaining.

Imagination is really dependent on memory and observation, these things that we think of as part of nonfiction writing, actually.

Reading Epictetus, I realized that most of the pain in my life came not from any actual privations or insults but, rather, from the shame of thinking that they could have been avoided.

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?

There's definitely a culture of Russian literature in Turkey. And in the U.S. too, to an extent - especially Dostoevsky.

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.

Proust's 'In Search of Lost Time,' especially 'Time Regained,' made me think differently about what the novel is and can do. Then I forgot about it, then reread it and remembered again.

Awkwardness comes from the realization that, when you look around the world, it's difficult to identify anyone who isn't either the victim or the beneficiary of injustice.

'Gone Girl' is as much about the near impossibility of being a good husband as it is about the anguish of being a good wife.

'Awkward' implies both solidarity and implication. Nobody is exempt.

I don't believe in being ashamed about not having read things.

I actually really wish I had written 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying' as an unreliably narrated novel that is also a self-help book.

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.