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When the Urge to Write Is a Life Sentence



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The Turkish novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan is serving a life sentence in prison in his home country, allowed to see his children only occasionally and his writing, in theory, limited to short notes to his family and lawyers. Earlier this month, however, Other Press published the English translation of his memoir, “I Will Never See the World Again,” which was written behind bars, defiantly, and smuggled out to that world he will never see.
I feel a special sort of empathy with Mr. Altan because I too am facing a life sentence — a terminal disease in the form of an often fatal form of brain tumor — but in my case at least I can blame health, God or bad fortune rather than my own vindictive countrymen.

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