You Rejoice My Heart

You Rejoice My Heart

London: Gomidas Institute, 2007,
xvi + 384 pp, map and photographs,
ISBN 978-1-903656-72-3, paperback
UK£20.00 / US$30.00
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In accordance with a publishing contract that I signed in Turkey with Doğan Book Publishing, 3,000 copies of Rejoice My Heart were ordered and printed up in December, 2000. They were to be distributed on January 15, 2001. However, on January 12, the responsible director of the printing house communicated the following message to me: "Because of a warning from on high, we won’t be able to distribute your book at present! We are going to wait until a more propitious time!"

I waited for a whole year. Countless times I asked when my book was to be distributed. The answer I repeatedly received was "We can’t publish your book at present! The political situation in Turkey is not right!" Finally, I decided to have my book published in Germany, paying for the publishing expenses out of my own pocket.

When it first appeared, You Rejoice My Heart received great attention. I received letters and telephone calls from places throughout the globe. You can read a selection of these in the appendix of this edition.

I went to the headquarters of the publishers on August 17, 2002 in order to discuss the status of my book. The company directors told me:
"Haven’t you heard? We had your You Rejoice My Heart destroyed!" and then they showed me the "Destruction Order" that had been signed by Istanbul’s 13th Notary Public. Without asking me, without informing me in advance, and without any official inquiry against either myself or my book, all of the printed copies of this title had been destroyed in a paper shredder on June 21, 2002 and in the presence of Istanbul’s 13th Notary Public (A copy of the "Destruction Order" that was later sent to me is also found in the appendix of this edition).

In a letter jointly signed by the publishing company’s board of directors, they defended their decision, saying "By destroying this book, we believe that we have prevented a new, black stain upon our country that could occur through a new case being opened [against it in the court of public opinion]."
During periods in which democratic rights, and the freedoms of thought and expression are being trampled under foot in Turkey—particularly after the military coup of September 12, 1980—a great many books, newspapers and magazines have been destroyed or condemned to the flames; a great many writers, intellectuals and artists have been tried and punished for the "crime" of free expression. But for a publishing house to voluntarily destroy with its own hands a book that it had itself printed and published, and in the presence of an official notary public... This was unheard of! The slogans "Democracy is coming!", "Restrictions on freedom of thought are being lifted!" are often claimed here, but if that’s so, these reforms are coming at a snail’s pace; sometimes it seems that we’ve barely progressed!

What a shame that the political order in Turkey remains such that publishers can be intimidated enough to destroy their own books, that creative freedoms remain blocked. What a shame for all that creative effort that has been wasted!

The destruction of books, the restriction of freedom of thought, and the punishment of those persons who speak truth and lift the veil off society’s taboo subjects: nothing will be achieved by all this. Those who actually believe that they are accomplishing something by this are not only deceiving themselves—they’re also deceiving the society in which they live. What’s more, they are bringing shame to Turkey.

I am publishing this second edition in Germany in the hope that Turks, Armenians, Kurds, Syriac Christians and all other peoples will get to intimately know and understand one another, that ties of friendship between them will be revived, that a culture of peace will eventually develop within Turkish society, and that the disgraceful actions by humanity and the great sufferings of the past century will never be forgotten nor experienced again. I convey my thanks and gratitude to all of the readers and friends who have leant me their assistance.
Kemal Yalçın
Bochum, March 1, 2003

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kemal Yalçın was born in the Honaz sub-district of Turkey’s Denizli Province in 1952. After finishing primary school he went to the Gönen Teacher Training School in Isparta.
In 1973 he graduated from the Çapa Advanced Teachers’ College in Istanbul and the Philosophy Department of Istanbul University’s Faculty of Literature. After that, he taught philosophy at the Kaman lycée in Kırşehir and the Kabataş Lycée in Istanbul.
During the years 1975-1976 he served on the General Executive Committee (Genel Yönetim Kurulu) of the Universal Education and Instruction Employees Unity and Solidarity Committee (TÖB-DER).
He worked in journalism and publishing in the years 1978-1980.
In 1981 he came to Germany, where, since 1989, he has worked as a Turkish instructor in Bochum.
His works include:
Sürgün Gülleri (‘Roses of Exile’, poetry)
Geç Kalan Bahar (‘The Late Spring’, poetry)
Emanet Çeyiz (‘The Security Trousseau’, novel)
Bilim Tuktusu (‘Passion for Knowledge’, autobiography)
Barış Sıcağı (‘The Warmth of Peace’, poetry)
Sinifta Çiçek Zor Açar (‘Flowers Don’t Bloom Easily in the Classroom’, recollections, stories)
Almanya’da Türkçe Anadil Eðitimi (‘Turkish Mother-tongue Education in Germany’, study)
He has received the following prizes:
1991 – First Prize, poetry; Petrol-Iş Award
1996 – First Prize, poetry; Cologne Multicultural Society Award
1998 – Novel of the year, Turkish Culture Ministry
1998 – Abdi Ipekçi Special Prize for Friendship and Peace
1998 – Turkey-Greece Communications Prize

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