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Friday, February 25, 2011

Why I wanted a misleading image on the book cover

I just got the new, revised cover image for my forthcoming book. Someone who knows Istanbul well and is familiar with the Ortaköy Mosque on the picture and how it is actually located in relation to the Bosphorus Bridge (Boğaziçi Köprüsü) in the background may be confounded. With good reason. The image is distorted.

So why would I want a misleading image on the cover? Here's an excerpt from the introduction:

The image on the cover of this book — what appears to be a mosque on the eastern shores of the Strait and a bridge leading west, to a Europe only faintly visible in the distance — suggests a simple geographic, cultural, and religious demarcation between Turkey on one shore and Europe on the other. It is, however, an illusion. The image is reversed: it is a mirror image. The Ortaköy Mosque in the foreground is actually located on the western, “European” shore and the bridge leads to the Asian side of the Strait. Looking closer at the mosque, the simplistic demarcation between an eastern, Muslim Turkey and a western, Christian (or secular) Europe is complicated further still, for the Ortaköy Mosque is one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in Istanbul. It was constructed in 1853 by the Paris-educated Armenian architect Nigoğayos Balyan per the request of
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