July 24, 2018
Katherine Nouri Hughes speaks at the Bernard Lewis: Appreciating a Scholar of Consequence colloquium on July 24, 2018 at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, D.C.
89.5 FM KOPN Columbia Penguin Tracks' Jill Sheets Interviews Katherine Nouri Hughes
Listen to Interview below
The Mapmaker’s Daughter, by Katherine Nouri Hughes (Delphinium). In the Ottoman Empire of the sixteenth century, a woman of Venetian birth gained power as the privileged consort of Sultan Selim II. Nurbanu Sultan (as she became known), the narrator of Hughes’s absorbing historical novel, defends her status against the vicious intrigues of Topkapi Palace. “It is fair to say about eunuchs that they are vindictive, babyish, condescending, and easily bored,” she reflects at one point. According to custom, when a new sultan ascends, his brothers are strangled. When Selim dies, Nurbanu must decide how far she will go to secure her son’s reign—and enlarge her own influence. Hughes’s Nurbanu is alert to her political and sexual vulnerabilities, and unsparing as she reflects on the manipulations and sacrifices that have marked her life. The result compellingly interlaces public history and intimate conjecture.