As an Expat Harem coeditor and producer, I'm pleased to share highlights of 2008 and recent days, as well as a few events to watch for in 2009.
INTERVIEWED ON TV
Becoming a go-to girl for providing the resident foreigner’s viewpoint on Turkish national television, this winter my coeditor Jennifer appeared on TV8's live social commentary program Iste Biz Boyleyiz with Professor Dr. Haluk Sahin for a discussion on Turkish culture and the rising influence of both westernism and Islamism.
She was also interviewed on NTV/MSNBC’s Sade Vatandas program, sharing her reaction to Barack Obama’s victory with Turkey’s most popular late night personality, Okan Bayulgen.
Both of us shared our perspectives with American audiences as well--5.4 million viewers to be exact—when NBC's Today Show, America's #1 morning network TV program, came to Istanbul in May for “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?” Matt featured the anthology and interviewed us live in front of the Haghia Sofia. NBC producers rated the Turkish segment as the highest viewed of Matt’s weeklong globetrotting! Watch the segment here.
FEATURED IN TRAVEL PUBLICATIONS
For National Geographic Traveler magazine, I contributed a mini-portrait of a city (March 2009), and wrote the Insiders: Istanbul infographic feature (April 2009), focusing on the historic heart of the Sultanahmet.
In last spring’s Foreign Correspondence interview syndicated in 31 McClatchy-owned American newspapers, I reminisced about Turkey’s mesmerizing shorelines.
In Turkish Travel + Leisure magazine (April 2008), travel writer Saffet Emre Tonguc chose us among his favorite writers -- alongside authors of veteran guidebooks like Lonely Planet, Dorling Kindersley, Frommers and Conde Nast Traveler.
SUPPORTED BY TURKISH CULTURE & TOURISM ORGANIZATIONS
When the Frankfurt International Book Fair (publishing’s largest annual event) featured Turkey as its Guest of Honor in October 2008, Expat Harem was featured by its Turkish publisher Dogan Kitap, highlighted by TURSAB (The Association of Turkish Travel Agencies), and displayed at the Turkish Ministry of Culture’s main stand.
This winter the Ministry pledged its support of our book for its TEDA project, which underwrites foreign language editions of Turkish books, and the Culture Minister, Mr. Ertuğrul Günay, hosted us in his Ankara offices in February to discuss using the book as a protocol gift and in Istanbul’s 2010 European Culture Capital celebrations.
HOSTED ISTANBUL’S 1st GLOBAL NOMAD SALON
With all its disparate cultural facets, could Turkey be a model for integration – for today’s hybrid identity individuals? This summer along with Janera Soerel, I cohosted 25 social scientists, businesspeople and cultural thought leaders at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet to try to answer that question. Soerel’s eponymous online social network published my Accidental Anthologist essay in January.
BROADCASTED ACROSS AMERICAN AIRWAVES
In July we appeared on America's nationally syndicated Joey Reynolds Radio Show, the #1-rated late night program out of New York City, reaching more than 5 million listeners. The veteran '60s era talk-radio star came to Istanbul and featured the anthology which his producer and fellow on-air personality Myra Chanin read and loved.
EMBRACING SOCIAL MEDIA
The Expat Harem community network now extends to a Facebook group and the micro-blogging powerhouse Twitter, which promises an “ambient intimacy” with us all-year-round!
WHO’S SAYING WHAT
Here are just a few of our favorite reader comments from the past year. See 200+ reader comments as well as expert and media reviews on our official website.
FALL: "Arabesk Nostalgia. I spent a year living in Istanbul, taking time to travel through central & western Turkey a few years ago. Unfortunately I was so busy enjoying life that I didn't take the time to write anything down about my experiences, but this book brought them all flooding back…if you have ever spent any amount of time in the country, or you want to know more about the reality of being a female foreigner in this amazing country, get this book. It's light but gripping and I promise you won't be disappointed…"
--An Amazon.co.uk review by fieduffy "bibliofi" in Bolton, Lancaster, UK
SUMMER: "Thank you for introducing me to snippets of Turkish life; the series of vignettes in your anthology really spanned a wealth of experiences. Thanks to the authors' sharp writing and your keen editing, I feel like I understand the female expat's perspective much better now, in situations from evil eye exorcisms to excessive pubic hair in the hamam. Hopefully I'll grasp a sense of the male perspective if (make that when) I travel to Turkey. My favorite stories include Unpacking the Pazar Arabasi and The Beat of A Different Drummer. Each author did a particularly good job in drawing me into their world, and allowing me as the reader to share the writer's enthusiasm, confusion, and constant re-evaluation of all things Turkish. Great job all around! Are you working on anything as an encore?"
--A Hong Kong man in New York, USA
"I’m reading the book again as I travel through Turkey and I find it just wonderful. It’s giving me more of an in-depth personal introduction to the country. Now I know I have to come back, I am absolutely enchanted. This is a really special place, I am so touched by the people. And I have to tell you I loved the Ottoman Princess tale."
--An American woman in North Carolina, USA
SPRING: "Last year I recommended that my book club (American Association of University Women study group) read your book. We enjoyed it and had a lively and very interesting discussion. In fact, we had trouble finding a stopping place. Thanks for the view of another world."
--A Bryn Mawr alum in Arizona, USA
"We hope you'll visit NYC soon and host a book reading and signing. Who knows, maybe Whoopi, Barbara, and the other women on The View will have you & your book around the coffee table! "
--A Bryn Mawr alum in New York, USA
"I loved this book. I read it before I moved to Turkey and it gave me an understanding of Turkey that helped me so much when I arrived. What I read in the book I found to be true of my own Turkish experience, too. I plan to put this book in the welcome package of our new foreign hires as an orientation resource."
--School administrator in Izmir, Turkey
"This is the perfect bedside book for our guest room. Ever since it was published and we read it, we have always kept a copy on the nightstand in our guest room and our constant flow of visitors just love it. They tend to read (at least) one story at bedtime which starts a great conversation about Turkish culture over breakfast the next day."
--An Australian artist in Istanbul, Turkey
WINTER: "I enjoyed your book. Even marriage to a Turk and five weeks with his parents can't compare to what I learned from those stories."
--An American instructor at a Turkish university in Istanbul
Causes Anastasia Ashman Supports
Vipassana Meditation Instruction (dhamma.org) Ashoka Organization of Social Entrepreneurs (ashoka.org)