The London Book Fair is upon us once more. Taking place at Earls Court in London from 15th – 17th April, the fair will encompass trade stands, workshops and seminars and talks from various featured authors.
This year, the London Book Fair is shining its spotlight on Turkey with both a professional and cultural programme.
One Turkish science fiction author visiting the fair is Bariș Müstecaplioğlu, creator of the “Legends of Perg” fantasy series set in the fantastical lands of Perg, which blends Eastern and Western cultures. His latest book is also a fantasy, “The Land of Shamans” (Şamanlar Diyarı), published in 2012. Baris’ books have found publication in Bulgaria, Serbia, China, Germany, Syria, Poland and India and he has also recently had a short crime noir story published in America in Istanbul Noir. Bariș is also the General Coordinator of Fantasy and Science Fiction Arts Association in Turkey (FABISAD) – so from one society that appreciates the genre to another, hello !
Bariș, who is currently getting ready to head to London from what he tells me is a very cold Istanbul, will be making the following appearances during the fair:
Monday 15 April
18.30-19.30 Innovation and the Novel
Foyles, 113-119 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0EB
Participants: İnci Aral, Barış Müstecaplıoğlu & Jasper Fforde
For the details of the event visit the event page on Foyles’ website.
Wednesday 17 April
11.30-12.30 New Fiction: Fantasy and Crime
Whitehall Room, Earls Court
Participants: Hakan Günday, Barış Müstecaplıoğlu & Ahmet Ümit
Chair: Barbara Nadel
Barış Müstecaplıoğlu graduated from Boğaziçi University’s Faculty of Civil Engineering. His first stories were published in YaşasınEdebiyat, Varlık and Bizler magazines. He received the İffet Esen Short Story Award in 1995. He wrote his first novel, “Coward and Beast” (Korkakve Canavar , 2002) at the age of 22. “Coward and Beast” was the first book of the fantasy series “Legends of Perg” (Perg Efsaneleri), which continued with “The Secret of Merderan” (Merderan’ın Sırrı, 2002), “Marsh Country” (Bataklık Ülke , 2004) and “The Alphabet of the Gods” ( Tanrıların Alfabesi , 2005).
After writing the fantasy series, Barış Müstecaplıoğlu made an unexpected turn toward reality writing the novel “The Disciple” (Şakird) in 2005. This work deals with his own experiences with the movement of FethullahGülen, who is referred to only as “Master” throughout the novel. In this work, we not only see that the writer has begun thinking about Islam, but also witness his attempt to understand how missionary activities enter our lives and how people favour such incidents. Barış Müstecaplıoğlu writes about the sentiments of those who join religious movements, how their emotions can be successfully exploited by the veteran members of a movement, how the movements implant feelings of guilt and sin. He also narrates, in very realistic language, the depression experienced by people who want to part ways with the movement, which he himself experienced.
Even though it is one of Barış Müstecaplıoğlu’s most attention-grabbing novels, The Disciple is a work that falls outside the realm of his usual writing style. Those who are familiar with the writer through his Perg Legends series will find it quite different. In the universe of the Perg, they find stories embellished with genies and fairies, originating from folk tales and legends. In his fantasy work, Müstecaplıoğlu does not limit himself to the genies and fairies; he also
Müstecaplıoğlu invents new races, new monsters and facilitates the meeting of the world of the living and the dead in the same story.
In his books, knights, villagers and different creatures live together, but the battle for power rages at full speed, just as in the reality of today’s world. The most enthralling characters of the story are the mutant creatures that have been created through Black Magic. The author defines his characters neither as good nor bad. Müstecaplıoğlu instead succeeds at exposing each character’s weak and strong sides. For example, in “Coward and Beast”, the first book of the Perg series, the characters Leofold, Guorin and Geryan are depicted as positive, yet the author does not cloak them with a cohesive cloth of goodness. They discover the depths of their weakness and powerlessness, their pain and agony, their internal struggles and feelings of revenge as they journey together. They are heroic, not for the sake of being so, but to be of help to others.
Müstecaplıoğlu has also written a crime novel, “Brother’s Blood” (Kardeş Kanı, 2006), which was published in Poland in 2008, and “HodiPodi, The Country in the Sky” ( Hodi Podi Gökyüzündeki Ülke , 2008), a fantastic children’s story illustrated by Engin Deniz Erbaş. Barış Müstecaplıoğlu is one of Turkey’s most prominent names in fantasy literature.