James Baldwin’s Turkish Decade: Erotics of Exile Paperback – 16 Jan. 2009
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"Magdalena J. Zaborowska s scholarly yet personal new book fills in details of an important but little explored period in the life of James Baldwin...Zaborowska's study is the first to focus completely on Turkey and the impact that living in a country "not east or west" had on the author s work...some of the richest and most illuminating writing on the author...Overall, with its wealth of personal insights, and highlighted by evocative photographs, extensive notes, and a wide ranging bibliography, Magdalena Zaborowska's work gives us an ultimately valuable addition to our understanding of the life and work of James Baldwin." --Reginald Harris, Lambda Literary Foundation, Sept 2009
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james baldwin worked on several projects in istanbul and turkey, his novels, ANOTHER COUNTRY and TELL ME HOW LONG THE TRAIN'S BEEN GONE, and his books of essays, THE FIRE NEXT TIME and NO NAME IN THE STREET. cezzar invited baldwin to Istanbul to direct the play FORTUNE IN MEN'S EYES, the duo's second collaboration. baldwin's version was so successful as to make a mark on drama in istanbul.
zabrowska has conducted countless interviews with baldwin's friends and associates, read correspondences and biographies and comprised an extensive bibliography inclusive of works by authors as diverse as italo calvino, Judith butler, and emma lazarus. she met the turkish photographer and filmmaker, sedat pakay, his photographs of baldwin collected BEARING WITNESS FROM ANOTHER PLACE: BALDWIN IN TURKEY, many of the photos stills from his documentary film JAMES BALDWIN : FROM ANOTHER PLACE.
in addition to providing a biography of baldwin's turkish days, zabrowska has done an additional service in the scholarship of exile and a writer's space, and a disquisition on sexuality and race in baldwin's works as influenced by an exotic location as conducive to his creativity.
from her reading of mikhail bakhtin, russian philosopher and literary critic, she took his definition of dialogic interpretation as useful in her reading baldwin.
in her second chapter, QUEER ORIENTALISMS IN ANOTHER COUNTRY, zabrowska turned to queer theory and orientalism to locate traces of istanbul in ANOTHER COUNTRY.
the third chapter of the zaborowska's study of baldwin's turkish period, is devoted to the events surrounding the play FORTUNE AND MEN'S EYES.
in chapter four, zaborowska speculated on the importance and influence of istanbul and his experiences there on baldwin's ideas on race and sexuality in the united states in a book of essays in which istanbul and turkey are never mentioned, although the two periods of the 1960s, the civil rights movement and the black power movement, enfolded into two long elegant essays by baldwin, from his participation and witnessing of both movements which make up NO NAME IN THE STREET, were written in istanbul.
attributing baldwin's explorations of black masculinity, his own as juxtaposed against aggressive heterosexual black men, a former body guard accused in germany of rape and luminaries of the black power movement, some of whom, like eldridge cleaver, denigrated his masculinity and racial activism, to turkish soil as a means to `frame the antiracist and antihomophobic message enabled by his turkish experience' is an uneasy argument zaborowska belabors. when she quotes bakhtin, " It is immensely important for the person who understands to be located outside the object or his or her creative understanding--in time, in space, in culture..." his words appear to apply more to her methodology than to baldwin's deliberations.
in her conclusion she speaks of baldwin and his love of theatre and the writing of THE WELCOME TABLE, his last play, never published, which readers and theater-goers continue to await.