Book Signing Event: "Tales From The Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey" -
Co-Sponsored with the Turkish American Association of Arizona

Around 70 people attended the book signing at Efes Restaurant and enjoyed a lively discussion and yummy food prepared by the owner Sam Shareef. Guests enjoyed dolma/grape leaves, Lahmacun/middle eastern pizza, Borek/spanakopita, patlican ezme, cacik bread, baklava and kataifi. Read about the event (Hospitable Desert Climes) in the editors' blog:

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May 2nd, 2006, 7:00pm, Efes Turkish Cuisine
(at SW corner of Guadalupe & McClintock)

Editors (Anastasia Ashman and Jennifer Gokmen) and contributor Catherine Salter Bayar will be reading from "Tales From Expat Harem"

Authors will be signing the book during the reception. Reception will be catered by Efes Restaurant


Traveling across the country, one witnesses places that still echo a way of life centuries old. Adventure on Anatolian homesteads, intrigue amid Turkey’s natural spectacles, and wonders of the world

Last Stop On The Orient Express:
Called Asia Minor by the Romans, continent-straddling Turkey -- the last country in Europe and the first in Asia -- naturally commits a storyteller to a state of limbo, caught in the ever-shifting flux between Occident and Orient.

Dynasties of mothers once inspected prospective brides for their sons in the hamam. The Turkish sauna and scrub remains a complex tradition of beauty practice, and female retreat. But far from being cloistered, the impact of women’s culture in Turkey is often full and frontal

Hennad Hands:
Courting etiquette and marriage rituals, from henna tatooing and traditional village bride bargaining to modern civil services of high society, receptions covered by voracious paparazzi. Dating and mating labyrinths.

Darbuka Drumbeat:
An innate part of the Turkish psyche, folkloric song and dance can erupt at any moment and overwhelm even the most intrepid expatriate.

Kin, Cauldron, and Kismet:
The importance of family and the often fatalistic rules of clan devotion require rituals of repast and a team-like sense of humor.

Peddler in the Bazaar:
With the historic Silk Road from China to the Mediterranean coursing through Turkey and ending in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, vending is in the Turkish blood. Brisk market scene is a way of life.

Salves& Soothsayers:
Believers in talismans, for over a millenium Turks have clung to their shamanistic roots. Does the witchy wisdom of old wives’ tales and the insight of fortune-tellers apply to everyone on Turkish soil?

Homespun Hospitality:
Konukseverlik, traditional Turkish hospitality, is both legendary and inescapable, especially for expatriates who seek to challenge it.

"Funny, sad, exciting, ribald, and always enlightening, these stories paint a fascinating picture of modern Turkey. There is no better account of why this country has captured the imagination of so many modern women."
--Stephen Kinzer, journalist and author of Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds

“This charmingly thought-provoking collection brings us the true experiences and stories of ordinary women whose voices have been continuously and systematically silenced by the tides of mainstream historiography and collective amnesia. While the book successfully transcends the binary oppositions and cultural stereotypes that are so deeply-embedded in the perceptions of the Eastern harem, it also probes the wonderfully intricate relation between the limitlessness of female venture and the limitlessness of portable homelands."
--Elif Shafak, professor of Middle Eastern studies, University of Arizona, and author of The Saint of Incipient Insanities: A Novel

“Faced with the often bewildering task of adjusting to regional gender norms, the women of the Expat Harem reveal in these fascinating, well-written tales the ways in which femininity, the way of understanding oneself as a woman, is relational and context specific."
--Reina Lewis, Professor of Cultural Studies, University of East London, author of Rethinking Orientalism: Women, Travel and the Ottoman Harem

“An extraordinary collection of women trying to make sense of their own lives through another culture. From the disillusioned missionary to the lady roustabout, what unites them is not their backgrounds or personalities but affection for an adopted Turkish homeland. The entrance to the harem is ajar. An addictive set of insights.”
--Andrew Finkel, author of Turkish State, Turkish Society and longtime correspondent in Turkey who has worked for Time magazine, CNN and the Times of London

“Well conceived and well written, TALES FROM THE EXPAT HAREM is an amazing source of foreign female wisdom reminiscent of Lady Mary Wortley Montague's TURKISH EMBASSY LETTERS. Among famous travelers to the 18th century Orient, the ambassador’s wife had the unique privilege of witnessing and recording the daily lives of women in Turkey. The ladies of today’s expat harem resume the story and share their own emotional journeys, themselves ambassadors of Turkey, wedded to the country."
--Sirin Tekeli, feminism and women's history scholar and editor of Women in Modern Turkish Society: A Reader

"Personal narrative meets social commentary in EXPAT HAREM’S diverse, funny and insightful tales of modern cross-cultural existence. Illustrating affectionate engagement with an adopted country while maintaining critical distance, in trying to make themselves 'at home' in Turkey, the authors succeed in questioning the very notion of 'home' …A delightful read!"
--Sibel Bozdogan, co-editor of Modernity and National Identity in Turkey, author of Modernism and Nation Building: Turkish Architectural Culture in the Early Republic and director of Liberal Studies at The Boston Architectural Center


ANASTASIA M. ASHMAN is a career essayist specializing in personal tales of cultural adventure. Tales From The Expat Harem is her first anthology, adding a new facet to ten years' experience evaluating and editing creative material in New York and Los Angeles media and entertainment, working for literary agents and producers of film, television, and Broadway theatre. She is at work on Berkeley to Byzantium: The Reorientation of a West Coast Adventuress, a cultural memoir charting the peaks and valleys of her adventurous life, from mean elevators and subways of Manhattan to the gilded palaces of Asia Minor -- and Southeast Asia, where she lived for five years. For Cornucopia, a glossy magazine for connoisseurs of Turkey worldwide, Ms. Ashman has written about joining a Turkish family; she has encapsulated the vanishing cuisine of a Chinese-Malayan subculture, as well as covered Malaysia's architectural heritage movement for Asia's oldest newsweekly magazine, Dow Jones' Far Eastern Economic Review; and for art and literary sections of newspapers like The Asian Wall Street Journal and The Village Voice in New York City, she has reviewed historical nonfiction scribes, avant garde multimedia poets, and multicultural travel commentators like Pico Iyer. Her essays appear in the women’s humor collection The Thong Also Rises (Travelers’ Tales, September 2005) and The Subway Chronicles (Plume-Penguin, September 2006). Born and raised in the progressive California town of Berkeley, she studied classical clarinet and Kodokan judo for more than a decade each. She holds a degree in Classical Greek, Roman and Near Eastern Archaeology from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, and lives in Istanbul with her husband Burc Sahinoglu.

JENNIFER EATON GÖKMEN is a writer captivated by the people and customs of Turkey, her home for the past twelve years. A proponent of the integrated, adventurous expatriate life, Ms. Gökmen began hers as an exchange student in England, later returning to the UK as a chef’s assistant working her way through the silver service dining rooms of London’s financial district before extensively backpacking Europe. At university her love life and wanderlust converged when a whirlwind romance with a young Turk resulted in a move to the eastern hemisphere. An active supporter of and participant in Turkish cultural activities, for the past six years Ms.Gökmen has served as International Coordinator for HAFEM's Kadiköy Municipality Annual Folkdance Festival showcasing two hundred ethnic dancers and musicians each summer. A native of Michigan, she holds a degree in Creative Writing and American and British Literature from Western Michigan University. Ms. Gökmen’s literary career began with the expatriate humor magazine Istanbull.... where she served as staff writer for two years. She is a regular contributor to TimeOut Istanbul magazine and her writing has appeared in the Strange Intimacies anthology exhibited at the 9th International Istanbul Biennial. Ms. Gökmen is currently penning her myriad Turkish adventures in a comical transcontinental confessional Midwest Goes Middle East: Adventures of an Expat Drama Queen. Ms. Gökmen lives her idea of a charmed life with her husband Bilgehan in Istanbul...nazar degmesin!

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