‘Tribades’ by Nazlı Karabıyıkoğlu, translated from Turkish by Ralph Hubbell

Over a decade after breaking up, ex-lovers bump into one another in a corner shop in Istanbul. In the intervening period, one has transitioned into a man, while the other has had to fight her own battle as a queer woman. During their encounter, they review their past choices and actions, reflecting too on the huge challenges facing LGBTQ+ people in Turkey today. ‘Tribades’ renders the loneliness and the struggles of being the ‘other’. At one point Emir says to Elfiye:

Who are you up against? And which comes first? What are we trying to defeat and who are we going to shout our victory cry at? It’s called breaking free from society, declaring yourself before they declare you the other [] This isn’t just a social challenge, it’s a revolt against the established order.”

Published online on Words Without Borders, New Fiction for the PEN Centenary, 2021 and available to read here, as a translated excerpt is from the author’s novel Elfiye