Follow Joseph Kanon to Istanbul, where he talks about his new novel.
“Istanbul Passage offers access to the compromised milieu of a vivid metropolis in its first postwar winter, where everyone is trying to keep balance amid bad choices.”
“Kanon compounds the fraught postwar mood with a location to match…Istanbul Passage is enlivened by intelligent plotting and its vivid evocation of the city itself, a setting rich in centuries of intrigue.”
“Superbly crafted … A beautifully conceived and atmospheric thriller; highly recommended.”
“ISTANBUL PASSAGE is a first-rate espionage novel, filled with complexity and thrills, but its greatest success may be in this much more universal literary exploration: how an ordinary man is transformed by extraordinary circumstances.”
“With dialogue that can go off like gunfire and a streak of nostalgia that feels timeless, this book takes its place among espionage novels as an instant classic.”
“ISTANBUL PASSAGE bristles with authenticity. Joseph Kanon has a unique and admirable talent: he brilliantly marries suspense and historical fact, wrapping them around a core of pure human drama, while making it seem effortless. This isn’t just talent; it’s magic.”
May 1, 2012—New York Public Library panel in mysteries, New York, NY
May 18-19, 2012—South Carolina Book Festival, Columbia, SC
June 5, 2012—Book Expo Signing, Javits Center, New York, NY
June 9-10, 2012—Printers Row Book Festival, Chicago, IL
June 11, 2012—Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN
June 12, 2012—Booksellers @ Laurelwood, Memphis, TN
June 13, 2012—Square Books, Oxford, MS
June 14, 2012—Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS
June 19, 2012—Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT
June 21, 2012—Rainy Day Books, Fairway, KS
June 26, 2012—Vromans, Los Angeles, CA
June 27, 2012—Mysterious Galaxy, Redondo Beach, CA
June 28, 2012—Third Place Books, Seattle, WA
July 10, 2012—Murder by the Book, Houston, TX
July 12, 2012—Poisoned Pen, Phoenix, AZ
July 18, 2012—RJ Julia Books, Madison, CT
July 21, 2012—Books & Books, Westhampton, NY
September 27, 2012—The Ossining Public Library, 53 Croton Ave., Ossining, NY, 7pm
October 2, 2012—The New York Society Library, 53 E 79th Street, New York, NY, 6:30pm
January 25, 2013—Jaipur Literary Festival, India
February 16, 2013—Savannah Book Festival, Savannah, GA
I’ve been asked a lot of questions about my research for Istanbul Passage, but the most frequent one (by far) is: where did you eat? So here’s a general answer with a few restaurant recommendations. None of these are out-of-the-way places. They’ll all be known to your hotel and most taxis.
Istanbul Passageis set in 1945 so most of the places where Leon, its protagonist, ate are long gone (as is his favorite watering hole, the bar at the Park Hotel) but a few places from that era still survive:
The bar at the Pera Palas (Mesrutiyet Caddesi) has been newly refurbished but all the old ghosts (including Agatha Christie) are still there. Pandeli, located over the Spice Market, Misir Carsi 1, has been an Istanbul mainstay for decades, and the restaurants in the Cicek Pasaji (Flower Passage) on Istiklal Caddesi, where Leon has lunch in the book, look much the same. So have a peek, if not necessarily a meal, then head for better food to:
Sofyali Sokak, a street near Tunel Square, just off Istiklal Caddesi, is lined with restaurants whose outdoor tables almost fill the street in good weather. Just grab the best table you can find and order mezes from the passing trays. A great Istanbul evening. Particularly recommended:
Refik at #10-12. Said to be popular with writers, a well-known meyhane whose walls are lined with caricatures of Istanbul media figures.
Flamm at #16/1. Slightly more inventive as well as standard mezes.
Sofyali at #9. Excellent mezes.
Views: Mikla, top floor of the Marmara Pera Hotel (Mesrutiyet Caddesi). If your budget isn’t quite up to this pricey (but good) restaurant, have a drink instead at the overhead rooftop bar. Probably the best view in Istanbul, magical at night.
Food: Hunkar in Nisantasi (upscale offshoot of the original in the old Fatih neighborhood). Turkish food at its best. Highly recommended.
Romantic splurge: Korfez in Kanlica on the Asian side. Have your hotel reserve. A private launch will pick you up on the quay near Rumeli Hissari and ferry you across the Bosphorus. After that romantic introduction, all is fresh fish and lights on he Bosphorus and illuminated fortress walls across the water— an unforgettable Istanbul experience.
More fish: Poseidon in Bebek, with a deck terrace over the Bosphorus. Balikci Sabahattin in Sultanhamet (nr. the Blue Mosque).
And don’t forget: street food is one of Istanbul’s joys: doner kebaps, stuffed mussels, towers of simits (sesame bread rings). Enjoy.
Author video for Istanbul Passage that we shot on site is finally ready. If you ignore me and look at the extraordinary city behind, you’ll get a sense of what’s in the book. Hope you enjoy. http://www.simonandschuster.com/multimedia?video=1494197938001
Taking a break from correcting page proofs of Istanbul Passage. I’ve seen this process countless times— from both sides of the desk—and there’s still something magical about a book taking physical form, all those legal pad pages with scratch-outs (word?) suddenly neatly in type, an idea now something tangible. I’m not a Luddite— it’s ok by me if books migrate to the ether or the cloud or wherever it is they’re going— but I hope we don’t lose the wonder of this.
Of course this is also the time when you wish you could re-write the whole thing, but that’s another matter.
Overheard yesterday in a doctor’s waiting room:
Receptionist: Oh hi! Nice to see you. Did you get married?
Patient: No. I just had the surgery.
Nothing like a visitor from out-of-town to remind one of the cultural riches of New York. Took in the beautiful Moghul Portraits at Asia Society, the fascinating Cindy Sherman show at MOMA, an evening at the theater (Other Desert Cities), then collapsed in front of the Oscars while the visitor kept going (a whole day at the Met).
Just back from Lisbon. The long sleep of the Salazar years preserved much of the center city in a kind of amber (new high rise business districts further out). So just the kind of city designed to be a thriller background—peeling facades, quiet squares, old trams, 40s window fronts. All it needed was mist rolling in from the river and a man in a hat lurking in a doorway..
Instead, we had sunshine (lunch outside), great seafood, the world class Gulbenkian Museum, and some of the most reasonable prices in Europe (a bargain compared to,say, Paris).
So highly recommended on both counts—thriller atmosphere And appealing present. Watch out for the pastries, though.
Reading Wolfgang Leonhard’s memoir, one of the few first-hand accounts of growing up in Stalin’s Russia. Still interesting but now a time capsule of a book—nothing dates faster than yesterday’s politics.