A story of Christians versus Muslims, cosmopolitans versus anti-urbanites, the conflicts within each group, and the surprising complicities between supposed foes. Based on the true history of the siege of Constantinople in 1402 and the battle of Ankara, with a cast of historical figures and fictional composite characters.
What will readers like about your novel?
Many will be fascinated by this encounter of two contrasting civilizations, one urban and sophisticated and Christian Orthodox, the other the newly Muslimized frontier culture of the Ottomans. The passions of the Christian child princess and of the Ottoman warrior sworn to protect her, the attitudes other characters, and the vivid portraits of city and country life in that epoch make for lively reading.
What was the inspiration behind it?
The brutal siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s and the resistance of its Muslim and other citizens to the onslaught by mostly rural Christian Orthodox forces were very much in my mind when, on my first visit to Turkey, I learned of this earlier siege where the forces were reversed: Christian Orthodox urbanites against a rustic Muslim horde. The overlay of contrasting cultures in Istanbul also deeply impressed me. I wrote the book to try to understand that conflict in 1402, and what it would have been like for both Christians and Muslims to live it.
Do you have any new works in the pipeline?Yes, first another collection of short stories, and then another novel about world-shaking events, but set in the not so distant past.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorites change, according to what I'm working on and what I’ve read lately. Right now, I am most impressed by Mario Vargas Llosa and a young Colombian author, Juan Gabriel Vázquez. Don DeLillo, Annie Proulx, Leon Tolstoy and Gustave Flaubert are also examples I return to frequently.
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know.
I am pleased to report that the Istanbul-based publisher Nokta will publish A Gift for the Sultan in Turkish this fall, and will present it at the TUYAP International Book Fair there in November. I’m now working on learning Turkish (my fifth language). Also, I draw caricatures and I'm practicing to play better guitar, and I'm so stubborn that I may succeed despite my lack of talent.
Congratulations, Geoffrey, your book sounds like a fascinating read. And good luck with the guitar lessons!
After graduating from Harvard, Geoffrey worked as a community developer in Venezuela and later, after earning a Ph.D. in sociology (Northwestern U.), did research in other Latin American countries while teaching in various universities. He began writing full time around 1978; his book of short stories, Welcome to My Contri, was very favorably reviewed in New York Times, 1988. He has also published many articles and books on Latin America. He and his wife now live in southern Spain.
You can discover more about Geoffrey Fox and his writing in the following places:
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