Cross-cultural readership 'a beautiful way to participate in the world': Ann Meryem Baycan

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Ann Meryem Baycan, an Indian-Turkish writer formerly known as Ann D’Silva, who is set to launch the Turkish translation of the first book in her ‘Sand and Sea’ trilogy, ‘Footprints in the Sand’, feels that translations are way to build cross-cultural readership and help people have a new experience similar to that of travel, or having friends from different ethnicities.

“People are the same everywhere, they want to have new experiences. My English-speaking audience loved the fact that the book has many Turkish sentences and phrases and so have the Turkish readers who read it in English. Prose is easy to translate, the challenges arise with poems, (as) one has to keep the essence intact along with rhyme, or else the core connect is lost. Cross cultural readership is a growing base, with the exposure that people have through travel, mixed marriages, friends from different ethnicity and orientations. It’s a beautiful way to participate with the world, which has shrunk due to the availability of access through the worldwide web and internet,” Ann told IANSlife.

The Istanbul-based author and humanitarian, who hails from Mumbai and had a decades-long run in the corporate world before relocating, explains she realised writing is her calling: “My love story with words began in school, I naturally took to writing poems since I was 12. I also maintained a journal to pen my thoughts and countless quotes even since. As life got hectic with my career, my journal only served as my companion at nights. Over the years, countless episodes and experiences have been penned in it. In 2017, when I took a sabbatical from corporate life, was when I realized that writing is truly my calling. I strongly recommend everyone to write a journal, it’s a great way to save your thoughts for a later day, should you ever want to write a book. Using one’s own failures or successes is a good place to begin to design a plot for the story you would want to tell to the world; after all, each one of us, is nothing but a story in life, why not use it as content to share with the world.”

Agreeing that penning a 400-page book can definitely be challenging, she shares about her process: “I think research is a must to give depth and experience to readers. I travelled to all the locations I covered in my book, experiencing the voice and spirit of the land, the traditions and cuisines of the Turkish people and so on. Good research reflects in the voice of the book. Secondly, I am a firm believer of flow and energy, I cannot wake up and write a few pages every day. I have to feel the connection and that leads me to a chapter, it’s always spontaneous, I never know what comes next and that keeps me excited and I hope it has come through in the pages of my book, for my readers. Last but not the least, is the premise; what you are trying to communicate. There are no fixed rules, set your own and own it till the end. Fiction is beautiful and I especially enjoy it; it has abundant room for imagination. Go ahead dream but when you wake up don’t forget to pen it down, so that nothing is lost in transit.”

How does she find the literary scene in Turkey?

“I am new to Turkey, it has just been over a year and half, I am yet to get conversant with Turkish, for now I get pass with basic pleasantries and odd sentences here and there, thanks to the tutorage from my husband Sertac, who is Turkish. I have read 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Orhan Pamuk’s “Museum of Innocence” in English and absolutely loved it. Poems of classics like Rumi and Yunuf Emre have been translated in many languages. Then there is Orhan Veli Kanik, Attila Ilhan, Yilmaz Erdogan whose poems are brilliant and soulful. There is a film on Orhan Veli Kanik and Attila Ilhan made in Turkey and a tele series on Yunus Emre, all on Netflix. Someday I hope to read their text in Turkish. Like India, Turkey is a very old country with an equally rich culture and has a long list of poets and authors loved the world over.”

The author’s ‘Footprints in the Sand’ was published in English in India in January 2019. Apart from its translation, the trilogy’s second book ‘Child of Two Worlds’ is slated for a February 2021 release.

A series on two soulmates – Sand (Kum) and Sea (Deniz) – and nature’s connection to love, the trilogy is also a travelogue across Turkey and India, tapping into cultures, places and human connections. According to the author, the second book individually deals with some global issues like the displacement of families of Syrian refugees, adoption and the importance of respecting nature.