Feature: Legendary hotel in Istanbul draws crime fiction masters, fans for literary festival

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-23 21:48:56|Editor: xuxin
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ISTANBUL, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- It was rainy on Thursday night, when a bunch of people gathered at the small ballroom of a legendary hotel in Istanbul, talking about crime and murder.

They are crime fiction buffs and renowned local and international detective novel writers, converging in the iconic Pera Palace Hotel for the fourth Black Week literary festival, a two-day event.

The hotel was built in 1892 with neo-classical and art nouveau styles, specially designed for passengers travelling on the Orient Express, one of the world's most luxurious train services operating between Paris and Istanbul since 1883.

Historians believe English crime novelist Agatha Christie wrote some parts of her famous book Murder on the Orient Express when she stayed in Room 411 of the hotel several times between 1926 and 1932.

"The venue is historic and full of real mysteries, inspiring many writers in history, including myself," Ahmet Umit, a leading detective fiction writer in Turkey, told Xinhua.

Ian Fleming, another English writer and creator of the legendary James Bond character, Alfred Hitchcock, the iconic English film producer, and the American novelist Ernest Hemingway were just a few other celebrities who used to frequent the hotel.

For Umit, the literary festival is getting significant in Turkey as crime novels are now increasingly generating interest compared to the past.

In his view, the genre was underestimated for years and considered as pulp fiction, but it has developed into a mature literature style over the last several decades.

"In this context, many young detective novelists have appeared and started to attend the festival with all their brand-new products," said the Turkish writer.

At the opening of the festival, Umit advised young writers to be sincere and use a decent language in their writings.

"But most importantly you should do the math and all the calculations well before starting to write," he said. "Because in the end, it will be a crime fiction and the mystery should be explained perfectly in details, without any deviation."

Adnan Ozer, a poet and one of the masterminds behind the event, agreed with Umit, saying more sophisticated works have to be created in the field in Turkey.

"Then our festival will be an authentic one," he told Xinhua.

Ozer called for a wide range of sectors in Turkey, including gastronomy, tourism as well as municipalities, to cooperate with the festival.

"Because crime fiction includes numerous venues like hotels, jazz bars, restaurants," he said, adding that these sectors could collectively contribute to the promotion of cities and literature-related tourism through tours and events at crime scenes depicted in novels.

The theme of the festival this year is Mike Hammer, a legendary detective character created by the American crime novelist Mickey Spillane.

"Mike Hammer became extremely popular among Turkish readers in 1940s and 1950s when the renowned writer Kemal Tahir translated Spillane's books and renamed the character as Mayk Hammer," said Algan Sezginturedi, head of the Crime Writers' Association in Turkey.

"Appealing to the taste of Turkish readers with the Turkish version of Mayk Hammer, Tahir made the crime genre popular in the country," he told Xinhua.

He said with the help of the festival, Turkish readers are now ready to meet prominent crime-fiction writers from the eastern world, including Arab countries, Japan and China.

B. A. Paris, the British author of Behind Closed Doors, and the German writer Wolfgang Schorlau, whose 2009 novel The Munich Conspiracy has excited crime literature fans, are among the foreign guests joining the festival.