Somewhere in Antalya, there’s a quiet alley which is home to The Owl Bookshop, an Ottoman House of two rooms, now in shambles.
The door is tattered, green, and wide open, as if to say enter at your own risk. The windows, equally tattered, seem to have never been shut. The glass panels are blurry with layers of dust and sill sits still, covered in grime. A little pot of purple and white flowers, almost wilting, seems to add some hint of colour the otherwise greyscale room.
There’s no sign of a doorbell. There’s no sign of anyone. I call out to Kemal Őzkurt, the owner, and he emerges from the backyard with a pitcher of water. He looks angry.
There are books everywhere – on the walls and the shelves, on the table and the floor. They are literally stuffed in corner, some even falling off the racks. Amidst the gloom, I spot a green spine of Harlan Coben, a bright pink spine of Peter James, an 'Evil Games' by Angela Marsons, a Henning Mankell, DBC Pierre, and a copy of 'A Traitor to Memory' by Elizabeth George.
The books are hand-me-downs from travelers and visitors across the world. They’re either for sale or exchange, and are mostly in English, German and French.
There was a time when Kemal would sit with visitors and chat with them endlessly about books and world politics. He was known to be a quirky, intelligent curator of books, who came from Cappadocia and set up this old-world bookshop with an extremely esoteric collection of books right in the middle of the posh city.
What remains of it now is a ragged house, its walls chipping away as they age, and two rooms full of books never to be read by anyone ever again.
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