Forbidden Zones

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-          A collection of sixteen short stories written over thirty-five years. Half have been published in international journals, magazines or anthologised. Some are award winners others unpublished; many have been performed across Europe.

 Unlike most stories they are unique explorations of the identity and memory of women and form a project of feminine self-discovery the aim of which is not to settle the past or prepare the way for an imaginary future but to always question and illuminate, going beyond certainties and conventions and often articulating truths that conventional morality would rather pass over in silence. In Aydın Mehmet Ali’s stories, femininity is synonymous with an irrepressible desire to name and discover, especially when the truth involved is painful to oneself, shameful to oneself and others or simply not in line with dominant notions of identity.

Dr. Angie Veola, Senior Lecturer, University of East London/Greece

 Mehmet Ali’s short stories are her life stories, a fictional life writing that focuses on gendered and diasporic experiences and mobility between spaces and time-zones: from those in 1950s colonial Cyprus; her departures and dwellings between Cyprus, UK and beyond; and her return and crossings to postcolonial partitioned Cyprus.  In Mehmet Ali’s process of literary production disruptive modes emerge individually and nightmarishly, yet they intimately connect successfully to generate a hybrid inter-generic network and solidarity.

Dr. Bahriye Kemal, Writing Cyprus: Postcolonial and Partitioned Literatures of Place, University of Kent/Cyprus

 … both the woman and the work are radically, unapologetically, dare I say, intransigently unaffiliated. To choose to work in a country with a history such as ours, in a society that has arisen as a direct result of that chequered past, within its own incestuous literary microcosm, and to remain so vehemently independent, not just politically and philosophically, but most importantly artistically, is a minor miracle. Her fluidity is what I value most because it means she has a seat prepared for her at almost every table in every scene. And she is one of the only writers I’ve ever met who listens considerably more than she speaks, feels far more that she opines, who is open and generous and enthralled to all the young artists of this island. This has always been present in her work, which is touched by the present and haunted by the past. But the radical cultural changes currently sweeping across this country see her in a unique place and I have a sneaky suspicion that she’s only just getting started.

Evros Stylianou, writer, MA in Literature. Cyprus/London.

 Aydın's short stories are a powerful antidote to the rift and tear that have affected her island. While relentlessly showing the killing and the rapes, all the forms of violence that were let loose, she also shows moments of love, or less dramatically, eyes that meet, hands that join, everyday instances of living together, often focused on women or homosexuals.

Dr. Christine Pagnoulle, Senior lecturer, Post-Colonial Literature, University of Liège, Belgium

 

Aydın's poetry and short stories are fascinating allowing insight into her life and experiences. I am always moved by her writing. She is an inspiration to all writers; she never ceases to amaze me.

Gülgün Mustafa, MA, Education and Behaviour Specialist, Artist. London.

 

The most courageous woman writer in Cyprus…

Gür Genç, poet, short story writer on “Caught Out”. Cyprus.

 One of Aydın's stories, which I have translated into German… has touched me deeply. She has caught the essence of the Cypriot character; on the one hand unforgiving because of tradition and perhaps religion, and on the other, ready to open the arms when one is in need. In the thoughts of the mother, there are many of the stories I have heard, while conducting interviews in Cyprus.

Heidi Trautmann, on "Bedtime Story”, Artist, essayist and author of, “Art and Creativity in North Cyprus, Vols I and II”. Cyprus/Germany.

 Aydın's work is powerful and shocking because it is explicit in exposing the abuse and suffering of Turkish speaking women in London… Her short story 'Daughter-in-Law', provides an insight into the situation and dilemma of one such victimised woman who is totally isolated and turns to a Turkish speaking community worker who is herself threatened by men. Although the narrative insists on the power of women in a feminist discourse, it also raises the question of the potential power of feminism in a community long accustomed to patriarchy.

Dr. Jennifer Langer, founding director of Exiled Writers Ink; Cultural Memory, MA; literature of exile PhD. London.

 Aydın's work is powerful. Her descriptions vivid. Her "butterflying" words ask for no wings, they are the wings.

Maria A. Ioannou, award winning poet and writer. Cyprus.

 Aydın's prose attunes to the pulse of the city, a city whose heart is revived with all the endearing details of everyday life. A narrative about women embracing Nicosia despite her old and fragile state as surrogate ''motherland'' poignantly juxtaposed with insightful commentary. Immediate as a smile, which lasts long enough to make us reflect. 

Marianna Foka MA, on “Women of Nicosia” Cyprus/London.

 Mehmet Ali’s “London is my City” exemplifies an anxiety to rescue her own version of London from being erased.  In this process, ‘home’ and ‘abroad’ are blurred since the narrative seems to be shifting between the two, interrogating them both in the process, and advocating at the same time identity politics of becoming or rootlessness.  The story traverses London both spatially and temporally, a journey that critically revisits orthodox notions of ‘home’, ‘nation’, ‘community’. 

Dr. Marios Vasiliou, Cypriot Anglophone Literature, University of Cyprus.

 A creative short story, travel notes, daily ethico-political thoughts, post-event considerations, observations or any other writing... The format might change but for Aydın one basic truth is essential and underlines all her work: we are all connected and equal … Sex, love, body, the individual, society, politics, art, human rights, languages, music... Her work is a timeless, delicate and a colourful patchwork of nature, humanity and equality.

Dr. Münevver Özgür Özersay, Architect, writer and lecturer. Cyprus/Czech Republic.

 So often her short stories read like collated poems. Her sentences, punctuated by colours, sounds and images that disrupt and divide them, remind me so much of the disruption and division in our lives, in the lives of all of us who live and feel Cyprus. 

Dr. Nicoletta Demetriou, Research Fellow in Ethnomusicology and Life Writing, Wolfson College, University of Oxford/Cyprus.

 In this incisive collection of stories, award-winning writer Aydın Mehmet Ali reflects the experiences of women caught up in conflict, both personal and political. It is beautifully written yet thought-provoking, giving voice to issues often silenced by taboos. Aydın skilfully uses fiction to raise important and universal political issues. 

Dr. Shereen Pandit, award winning writer, lawyer. London/South Africa.

 In terms of Cypriot literature, the most astute representation of migrant women is Aydın Mehmet Ali’s short prose piece “Women of Nicosia”. The writer depicts their otherness in terms that turn their othered presence on the Nicosia scape into a source of potential empowerment. Their very presence, their walks in the old town give them entitlement to the culture and history of this place. In other words, they are integral to Nicosia just as Nicosia is integral to their life. Aligning them in a certain, limited sense with Aphrodite, emerging through the ruins to beautify and transform the landscape blessing it with her sensuous abundance.

Dr. Stavros Karayanni, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities, European University Cyprus; Editor of Cadences literary journal. Cyprus/Canada.

 “London is my City” is a fine literary essay that celebrates the sharing of cultural experiences in the multicultural society that emerged in post-colonial London. Mehmet Ali’s voice is all the more vibrant and moving as she brings together her coming-of-age in the metropolis with her personal and social engagement.

Prof. Stephanos Stephanides, FEA OSSI, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Cyprus/USA/Guyana/UK.

 

Author: Aydin Mehmet Ali

FATAL publications/2001/pp.361

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