Co-founder and editor in chief of Istanbul based independent publishing house Siren Yayınları Sanem Sirer answered three questions about the time we are passing through.
How are you affected?
The first case of Covid-19 was reported on March 11th in Turkey. We have been working from home since March 14th, following the recommendation of the health ministry that people should avoid going outside when possible. We are an independent publishing house with freedoms most other institutions may not have so we are working from home, spending this time to prepare new books and projects for our Summer and Fall seasons while physical bookstores are mostly closed. While we are all facing the same kind of worries and anxieties regarding the future and the well-being of our loved ones as well as our industry, we are trying to spend this period to find new ways to connect with readers and to innovate our own business practices.
What will change in your country or the world?
It's a historical moment that we are in right now and we are globally facing a challenge. There is much to think about for all of us in terms of sustainability and our destructive tendencies towards the planet. Economically there would be many wounds to tend to after this but moments of crisis are sometimes also moments of awakening.
The art world and the publishing industry will surely be hit badly, but art and literature will remain as they always have remained after wars, bombs, natural disasters, etc and they will continue to thrive. That's all we need, really, the rest can be reestablished or built anew, either by us or by others.
What do you hope to change?
I am not sure if we necessarily learn much from pandemics, it may be just enough to survive them, but one would hope that we may be forced to change our ways, our attitudes, our bottomless cravings at the expense of others and give up on our denial in terms of the level of human destruction on the planet.
During the testing circumstances of this pandemic, most people have had the experience of facing their own mortality as they were following each day's statistics and they also contemplated life without their loved ones so that there is a renewed understanding of what "the essentials" are - this is a sobering experience in that sense.
Nobody wants to be a number or an element in a statistic and this is the part that is truly heartbreaking, the act of bearing witness to this as it is happening...
Perhaps, when we have begun to heal, we can reconsider how we have built our existing systems to be so fragile and question how we have normalized inequalities to build a better world where each life matters.