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Tales from the Expat Harem
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As the Western world struggles to comprehend the paradoxes of modern Turkey, a country both European and Asian, forward-looking yet rooted in ancient empire, Tales from the Expat Harem reveals its most personal nuances. This illuminating anthology provides a window into the country from the perspective of thirty-two expatriates from seven different nations - artists, entrepreneurs, Peace Corps volunteers, archaeologists, missionaries, and others - who established lives in Turkey for work, love, or adventure. Through narrative essays covering the last four decades, these diverse women unveil the mystique of the "Orient," describe religious conflict, embrace cultural discovery, and maneuver familial traditions, customs, and responsibilities. Poignant, humorous, and transcendent, the essays take readers to weddings and workplaces, down cobbled Byzantine streets, into boisterous bazaars along the Silk Road, and deep into the feminine stronghold of steamy Ottoman bathhouses. The outcome is a stunning collection of voices from women suspended between two homes as they redefine their identities and reshape their worldviews.Coining the "expat harem" as a distinct community, the editors also boldly reclaim the concept of an Eastern harem-long the subject of erroneous Western stereotype. "Much like the imported brides of fifteenth-century sultans, our expat harem is conjured by the shared circumstance of being foreign-born and female in a land laced with a harem tradition," Ashman and Gokmen declare."Our writers are inextricably wedded to Turkish culture, embedded in it, yet alien nonetheless."
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