Ozinian's new books highlight the complexity of identity politics
In her new books 'The Orchestra Within' and 'Roots and Wings: Beyond Ararat,' published by SRC Publishing House, Armenian author Alin Ozinian reveals the social struggles faced by minorities with different identities in Turkey while emphasizing how oppressive policies, literature, art, architecture, and cuisine have all shaped the notion of identity.
The books weave together stories of Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, Azeris, Iranians, Russians, and Lebanese living in Turkey and surrounding regions. 'The Orchestra Within Us' compiles the background behind Armenian poet Zahrad's poems, painter Aivazovsky's inspirations, boxer Garbis Zakaryan's patriotism, Charles Aznavour's roots and journey to stardom, and other vignettes.
Director Baris Pirhasan, who authored the foreword, described Ozinian's writing as "The courage to question life with the power of a great and deep anger makes itself felt at every moment."
Other chapters highlight Armenian artist Nubar Terziyan's struggles with openly expressing his identity, Armenian migrant workers in Turkey, and Armenian athletes fighting for recognition in the Ottoman Empire.
Academician Erol Koroglu praised Ozinian's unique style in his foreword: "Alin shows care for the world. She wants the world to be good for her and her people. Alin is an essayist. These essays are born out of the interaction of the author's past and present."
In 'Roots and Wings: Beyond Ararat' Ozinian examines national cuisine and identity, analyzing dishes like the Armenian Kkapama, Khash, and Topik. She tells the story behind recipes while illuminating the connection between food and cultural identity.
Author Hercules Millas described it as "raising consciousness. It can also be considered a textbook, a seminal, instructive book."
Ozinian also reflects on the efforts of Armenians towards the Turkish language and the contributions of Armenians and other minorities to the region's culture. She recounts childhood memories like her bond with Ramadan bread and questions whether leaving or staying in Turkey is harder.
Ozinian's books highlight the nuances of identity politics beyond surface-level debates through emotional storytelling and introspection. Her unique perspective prompts readers to re-examine prejudices and better understand the diversity within Turkey.