A New Turkish Thriller Puts East and West at Odds

Burak Turna is one of Turkey's most popular young writers. In his recent novel, fascist EU troops invade Turkey, which in turn joins forces with Russia. The book proved a major success in Turkey and the Arab world. Joseph Croitoru reports

Burak Turna (photo: Burakturna.com)
One of the reasons for "The Third World War's" remarkable success is that Turna weaves underlying Turkish fears and suspicians into the plot

​​With the release of his most recent book a few months ago, the popular young Turkish author Burak Turna has landed a runaway success in his home country. His futuristic thriller entitled "The Third World War" paints an apocalyptic picture of Europe in the year 2010.

According to the scenario, Western multicultural societies collapse and European democracies fall like dominoes after fascists seize power in France and Germany. Organized gangs of thugs, with the support of the state, terrorize European Muslims, leading to widespread fighting and chaos on the streets. Afterwards, the EU definitively rejects Turkey's membership application because the country's Islamic character is seen as a threat by a Christian and racist Europe.

Expansionist ambitions of EU fascists

Although the rest of the plot may sound like a bizarre mixture of the unbelievable and the unsettling, over 100 thousand captive readers in Turkey have already bought and devoured Turna's political thriller.

At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, so the story goes, Turkey is so concerned about the safety of its citizens abroad that it joins forces with Russia. The Great Bear wants to counter the expansionist ambitions of EU fascists, and it is deeply worried about constant attacks on ethnic Russians in the Baltic Republics.

Russia and Turkey decide to destroy the European Union. In order to make the success of this military operation a plausible development, the author has embroiled the US simultaneously in a war with China, an emerging superpower. Following the Turkish-Russian attack, Turkish divisions take Berlin, and together with the Russians, the Turks emerge victorious, having wiped out the European Union with its capital in Brussels.

Alliance of Orthodox Russians and Muslim Turks

The book features a number of dialogues that point to the imminent demise of Western Europe. In a conversation between a Turkish and a Russian officer, we learn that Europe's future political center will be moved to the far east of the continent, with Istanbul replacing Brussels as the new European capital. With a sense of satisfaction, the Turkish officer observes that the West can do nothing to prevent the powerful alliance of Orthodox Russians and Muslim Turks.

Turna's vision of the future may seem like an absurd version of "The Clash of Civilizations" by the American political scientist Samuel Huntington. Perhaps the 30-year-old Turkish author was even inspired by Huntington's works. In his public statements on the thriller, however, Turna has shown very little willingness to distance himself from the book's shocking contents. On the contrary, he says that he knows enough about history to conclude that Europeans would never accept Turkey as an equal partner.

He believes that Europe, with its long tradition of nationalism and racism, will have to bear the consequences of its own actions and history, and that in the end, the EU won't be able to cope with the problems posed by Muslim immigration. Turna expects the EU to reject Turkey's bid for membership, leading to regional destabilization and, unavoidably, a cultural clash between East and West.

One explanation for the remarkable success of this thriller among Turkish readers is that Turna has very cleverly managed to hit an extremely sensitive nerve, namely Turkish fears that membership in the European Union would lead to regulation of virtually every aspect of their lives. Many Turks oppose joining the EU out of a sense of national pride, and they see membership as a betrayal of the country's traditions.

"Metal Storm"

In order to stir up these emotions, the author relies on a winning formula that worked well in his first work of fiction, co-written with another young man under the militaristic title "Metal Storm". In this war thriller, which was released December 2004 in Turkey and became a bestseller in record time, the United States attempts to intervene in the country's Kurdish policies, an interference with internal Turkish affairs that eventually leads to military intervention.

Following a US invasion and the bombing of Turkish cities, Turkey retaliates with a devastating blow when a Turkish agent manages to detonate a nuclear bomb in Washington, leveling the American capital.

In addition to being a smash hit in Turkey, "Metal Storm" was enthusiastically received in Arab countries, where it was given rave reviews in the press. One columnist writing in the Iraqi daily Al-Yaumiya in Baghdad even seriously maintained that the book heralded "America's next war". Both books have been translated into a number of languages and can be ordered online from major distributors. One leading German-Turkish Internet bookseller has even offered it in an inexpensive double edition.

Joseph Croitoru

© Joseph Croitoru 2006

Translated from the German by Paul Cohen


Elif Shafak
There Is No Clash of Civilizations
There Is No Clash of Civilizations between Europe and Turkey; rather there is a clash of opinions within Turkey itself, crystallized in a collision between those who are state-oriented and those who are civil-society-oriented, writes Elif Shafak

Atom Egoyan's "Ararat"
"Who Remembers the Armenians Today?"
"Ararat", the latest film by the Canadian-Armenian director Atom Egoyan, deals with the massacre of the Armenians in Turkey - where the movie will not be shown. Amin Farzanefar on the film, the director and his oeuvre

Interview Sandal and Gentleman
"The Real Message of Religion Is: Do Good!"
In the following interview with the Turkish singer Mustafa Sandal and the German reggae star Gentleman, Daniel Bax asked them about their native countries, respect for each other, and their perception of religion

Website Burak Turna (in Turkish)