Just a few years ago, Turkey was viewed as a bulwark of stability in the Middle East and a reliable ally for the West. But the pressures on the country have become almost intolerable. The New Year’s Eve massacre in Istanbul was only the most recent of a horrifying wave of terrorist attacks, and the government of President Tayyip Erdoğan has become increasingly authoritarian. The coup attempt last July pushed the repressive measures into high gear. Erdoğan has now jailed tens of thousands of civil servants, writers, artists, and dissidents.
Elif Shafak has written about Turkey for The New Yorker as well as in many novels and other works. She had her own run-in with Turkey’s nationalism: she was taken to court for the crime of "insulting Turkishness," because a character in one of her novels lamented the Armenian genocide. She talked with David Remnick about why Erdoğan seems to be taking his cues from Vladimir Putin.