Volume 16, Number 8
November 10, 2009

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This Week

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Talking “Crime and Literature” with Novelist Ahmet Ümit

sedaMaster writer of crime and detective stories Ahmet Ümit visited Bilkent University to present “Crime and Literature” on Tuesday, November 3. It was not only a conversation on literature, but also a commentary on our lives.

“Crime and literature,” although ostensibly contradictory, have much in common.

“Both are vague concepts,” said Ümit, expressing the complimentary side of their relationship. “This vague side of literature is a necessity. A good work of literature does not conclude for the reader. There are always varied suggestions that create this vagueness. The reader is thus able to draw his own conclusion with his own creativity.”
This open-endedness gives more pleasure to the reader. Moreover, it is the same for crime. Breaking the law, curiosity - they all excite us. There is a pleasure in this vagueness, and this is why crime and literature are the same according to Ümit. This “pleasure” that he frequently mentions is what literature is based on; otherwise, there is no point in writing stories.

The crime and literature relationship was not the only point Ümit made. He also discussed the changing values, judgments and preferences of today's writers within their individual social and political agendas - these are the reasons a writer writes. 

ahmet ümitBefore talking about his writing career, Ümit discussed how he used to write about his past. In a sense, this is his inspiration. Then came a confession: Ümit spoke of how he began writing crime stories by chance. It involved a part of his past, a political in the 1980s - a story of an idealistic young man that opposed the ‘82 constitution. He expressed his protest in a political and “illegal” written declaration, one that was made to look like a crime story. Later, crime story was thought to be quite interesting and was translated into forty languages - arguably a great success. This funny coincidence was both the beginning of his career and the reason why he writes crime and detective stories.

“Today we see writers who are after something more than occupational pleasure,” Ümit said, “the ones writing for public acceptance, an appreciation of politics, running after fame or money… For a man who strongly believes the only thing that can be gained from literature is its pleasure, he sure strongly defends a writer. Or in a wider sense, an artist should not be manipulated and today, this is our serious problem.”

Ümit concluded his talk by saying,  “An artist has to be extraordinary and independent: breaking the rules, saying something different, committing a crime.”

Bilkent News

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