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Book Review: Nicosia Beyond Barriers; Voices From A Divided City Book Review: Nicosia Beyond Barriers; Voices From A Divided City
by Rene Wadlow
2021-05-23 10:02:10
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Alev Adil, Aydin Mehmet Ali, Bahriye Kemal, Maria Petrides (Eds.)
Nicosia Beyond Barriers; Voices From A Divided City
(London: Saqi Books, 2019, 249pp.)

Negotiations on the future of Cyprus encouraged by the United Nations remain deadlocked. There is on the one hand a largely Greek-led Cyprus which is a member of the European Union, a Turkish-led Cyprus which wishes to be called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and between the two a zone under the control of U.N. peacekeepers. Nicosia, the capital city, is a reflection of this three-way division.

nic0001_400As Mary Anne Zammid writes in "Shades of A City" Between night and day, the city is closed, divided by cold gates. In the midst of silence and lines of despair, walls of silence sending instructions without meaning, only feeling of captivity.

However, there is also a Cypriot culture which is an outgrowth of long cohabitation as well as minorities from other Mediterranean countries such as Armenians and Palestinians or newer diaspora such as people from Zimbabwe and Nigeria. There is also a strong British influence due to the British colonial rule.

This anthology of short stories, poems and reflections gives a good picture of the complex interactions including those who want a Cyprus without walls and lines that divide. As Rachael Pettus writes in her poem "Ledra Street Crossing " People fill out papers, hand over documents and file through checkpoints, orderly, polite... And the birds? They flap from rooftops and balconies, sing in the trees and weave between flagpoles.

Birds are often used as symbols. Alev Adil in his "Fragments From An Architecture Of Forgetting" recalls what the Sufi sage Aamer wrote that doves were our nobler feelings, the ravens our anger, our fear, our doubt. We must free the doves, let them fly free, but should keep the ravens locked in or they will return with their malevolence redoubled.

For the moment, there are more ravens than doves. Thinking of new possibilities is necessary.

 *****************************

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens


   
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