The Princes’ Islands

Joachim Sartorius / Translated by Stephen Brown

‘For me, who has spent many a summer on the Princes’ Islands, this book is a ravishing account of the enchantment of a poet by the landscape, the light and the people of this archipelago. Joachim Sartorius starts in the present without ever losing sight of the mystical legacy of Byzantium, the lives of the Greeks in the shadow of Istanbul and the loss of cosmopolitanism. He rekindles in us the wish to buy a ticket at once and embark for the islands.’
Orhan Pamuk


Off the coast of Istanbul, in the Marmara Sea, lie the Princes’ Islands, an archipelago of unusual natural beauty, which has long been considered the maritime suburb of the imperial capital on the Bosporus and effectively shaped by its manifold history. The poet Joachim Sartorius draws a loving portrait of the landscape and the light, the political observer Sartorius describes the microcosm, which was always a reflection of Istanbul-Constantinople-Byzantium, while the novelist Sartorius introduces us to the characters, who inhabit this time capsule.

JOACHIM SARTORIUS is a poet, translator and commentator. He grew up in Tunis and spent twenty years in the diplomatic service in New York, Istanbul and Nicosia. He was Secretary General of the Goethe Institut until 2000, and from 2001-2011 was Director of the Berliner Festspiele. He lives and works in Berlin. A collection of his poetry, Ice Memory (Carcanet, 2006), is available in English. He is the author of My Cyprus and The Geckos of Bellapais.

STEPHEN BROWN is a playwright, translator, and cultural critic.

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