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Photo of Galata Bridge by Geir Halvorsen used under a Creative Commons license.

Geert Mak, The Bridge (Random House UK, 2008).
Istanbul’s Galata Bridge spans the Golden Horn, a long estuary on the European side of the Bosphorus, and links two of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. To the south is Sultan Ahmet, a traditional Muslin part of the city, where you will find the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace. To the north is Pera, the core of westernized Istanbul. The bridge itself is crowded with cars, pedestrians, fishermen, vendors, beggers, as well as shops and restaurants. Mak’s book is about the bridge, present and past, a little window onto Istanbul and Turkey.

Wikipedia’s entry on the Golden Horn is helpful, as is the page on the Galata Bridge. Here is an English-language bio of Mak, who is a Dutch journalist, on his website. Mak wrote about spending time on the bridge. The New Statesman ran this excerpt. Alev Adil (The Indepedent) says Mak’s intimate portraits disrupt tidy European prejudices. Lesley Mason says that as an insight into modern Turkey, it is charming, learned and unique. Viola Fort (The Guardian) says it’s part history lesson, part cultural essay. The Armenian Odar enjoyed meeting people he would probably ignore if he were to cross the bridge. Via Martyn Everett, Jeremy Seal (The Telegraph) says Mak has reinvented the city’s iconic bridge as the focal point for the frustrations and humiliations endured by Turkey’s urban dispossessed. Doulter says Mak reports how Istanbul is in a permanent state of flux, a perfect example of new nomadism. For Gary Schwartz, it brought back memories of Istanbul. Ali Çimen interviewed Mak. Listen to Ramona Koval interview Mak on ABC’s The Book Show, or read the transcript. Here’s a curious story about the book’s publication in Holland. Esther has more.

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