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James Baldwin’s Turkish Decade: Erotics of Exile Paperback – 16 Jan. 2009

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"Illustrated with stunning photographs, James Baldwin's Turkish Decade presents fascinating and little-known details about Baldwin's Turkey and offers a new way of reading his works from the 1960s to the early 1970s. A small, throwaway reference to Istanbul in Another Country now appears momentous." Werner Sollors, Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English and African American Studies, Harvard University "Magdalena J. Zaborowska's excellent scholarship unearths new and little-known material about James Baldwin's time in Turkey, particularly through her interviews with Baldwin's friends and colleagues in Istanbul. Her original analyses of Baldwin's work in the context of his Turkish experiences are also outstanding." David Leeming, author of James Baldwin: A Biography "Drawing on oral history, archival research, literary analysis, cultural studies, and personal narrative/(auto)ethnography, Magdalena J. Zaborowska renders a multitextured reading of James Baldwin's years in Istanbul. No one else has so thoroughly examined the influence of those years on Baldwin's work, and anyone who comes after will have to cite Zaborowska. And I dare say that no one will be able to capture this story as well as she has. James Baldwin's Turkish Decade will change the field of Baldwin studies." --E. Patrick Johnson, co-editor of Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology<br /><br />In 'James Baldwin's Turkish Decade', Magdalena J. Zaborowska, a professor of immigrant and African-American literature, sets out to explain not only the enduring attraction the city had for Baldwin but its importance for the rest of his career...Zaborowska is a charming companion as she follows Baldwin s steps through Turkey, brimming with enthusiasm at the sights and at the warmth of her reception by his friends...she makes us feel how necessary such a refuge was as the sixties wore on. --Claudia Roth Pierpont, The New Yorker, 9th Feb 2009

"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


Between 1961 and 1971, James Baldwin spent extended periods of time in Turkey, where he worked on many of his most important books. In this first in-depth exploration of Baldwin's "Turkish Decade," Magdalena J. Zaborowska reveals the significant role that Turkish locales, cultures, and friends played in Baldwin's life and thought. Turkey was a nurturing space for the author, who by 1961 had spent nearly ten years in France and Western Europe and failed to re-establish permanent residency in the United States.Zaborowska demonstrates how Baldwin's Turkish sojourns enabled him to re-imagine himself as a black queer writer and to revise his views of American identity and U.S. race relations as the 1960s drew to a close. Following Baldwin's footsteps through Istanbul, Ankara, and Bodrum, Zaborowska presents many never before published photographs, new information from Turkish archives, and original interviews with Turkish artists and intellectuals who knew Baldwin and collaborated with him on a play that he directed in 1969.She analyzes the effect of his experiences on his novel "Another Country" (1962) and on two volumes of his essays, "The Fire Next Time" (1963) and "No Name in the Street" (1972), and explains how Baldwin's time in Turkey informed his ambivalent relationship to New York, his responses to the American South, and his decision to settle in southern France.

James Baldwin's "Turkish Decade" expands knowledge of Baldwin's role as a transnational African American intellectual, casts new light on his later works, and suggests ways of reassessing his earlier writing in relation to ideas of exile and migration.

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