The latest novel of author Nermin Yıldırım, living in Istanbul and Barcelona, "Ev" (Home) is published in November 2020 in Turkish. With her own words, "it is a novel about the different meanings of home, the space and blanks it fills".

As we are approaching to a year mark of quarantine, the home investigation continues. Manolya Su Danoğlu translated her answers.

In German there is a relationship between the words Heim (Home) - Heimat (Homeland) – Geheim (Secret) – Unheimlich (Heimlich: Hidden – Unheimlich: Uncanny). What kind of a relationship do you correlate between these words? 

We have this saying, "kol kırılır yen içinde kalır." [Which means that if something happens within the family, it should be resolved within the family; when translated literally: "The arm breaks, the sleeve remains within".] Culturally, I think that "home" is that sleeve. And family, too. An authoritarian structure, which on one hand is there to protect us, on the other hand traps and condemns us to its own conscience.

So yes, close to its German connections, I can say that a home has walls, that are bonded by uncanny secrets.

I watched Nomadland recently. This dialogue in the movie sums up my view on home and homelessness very well:

-Are you homeless?

-No, I am not homeless. I am houseless.

2. In Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard uses house as a tool to analyse the human soul. Because “Our soul is an abode. And by remembering ‘houses’ and ‘rooms,’ we learn to ‘abide’ within ourselves.” What do you think about this analogy between house and  body? Or what is the imaginative width of “house” for you?

In the process that made me and prepared me to write the novel "Ev", the feeling that the house is a physical and spiritual shelter was dominant. I was imagining a structure that was not a part of the people, but would physically close in on them and while doing this, complete the spiritually shattered soul. I believed that this structure could be reached and/or returned to from some sort of journey.

But then, as I thought more broadly on the house, as I was writing the novel, I realized the house was not located outside, but rather inside. This did not narrow its field, but widened it. To reach a certain point was not necessary to get home. On the contrary, anywhere we were could be home.

In "Ev" many different meanings that are attributed to the house, echo in the lives of the characters: the childhood home, a dog becoming home for a person, the change in the meaning of home for someone who is separated from their country… What does "feeling at home" mean for the residents of the your novel?  

On the one hand, those who call us home, even those who take us in, those who lock us in… On the other hand, those who kick us out of the house, those who do not let us into new houses, those who do not open the doors… We may be experiencing one of the most double standard and hypocritical times in history, in terms of personal and social relations with the house.

"Ev" is a novel about the meanings of home, the space and blanks it fills. Although it is my personal belief that a home is mostly built on deficiencies, there is no doubt that the definition may change according to anyone defining it. It may be a bench in the park for some, for others it can be a train compartment, a ship cabin or a cardboard box house.

The memories of elders, the hopes of children, a sheltering laughter on a painful day, a pair of shoes left at the door, an old photograph that revives a forgotten time, these things are home as well.

EXTRA 2: I read "Ev" as a story of a character who was able to burn down her own house, which was turned into hell and then find the strength to build a new one with her chosen family. Is it sometimes a good idea to burn down the house? 

I find it meaningful to get rid of the old one or to redefine the old one in order to establish a new one. It can be sometimes be by writing, and yes, sometimes by burning.  


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