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Ayse Papatya Bucak comes to CU Denver

Ayse Papatya Bucak read The Trojan War Museum and Other Stories in the Zenith Room in Tivoli 640.
Photo: Alex Stallsworth · The Sentry

On the evening of Sept. 16, CU Denver hosted author, professor, and contributing editor to the University’s very own Copper Nickel, Ayse Papatya Bucak, to read from her newly released book The Trojan War Museum and Other Stories.  

The Trojan War Museum and Other Stories is a love letter dedicated to Bucak’s Turkish and American identity. Bucak, who was never confident in her Turkish stories, used her book as a catalyst for exploring her roots and understanding what it means to have a mixed identity. The book, which is rooted in research, was handled with all the necessary TLC, as Bucak humored the audience when she talked about some of the very first drafts in producing the book, joking, “You can start off really bad, and it might be okay in the end.” 

The event, hosted in the Zenith Room in the Tivoli, couldn’t have been a more befitting setting to tell stories, as the room was complete with an atrium, pillars, and an arched window that broadcasted the sangria sunset that peeked out from the Denver skyline. The atmosphere allowed audiences from students, friends, and faculty alike to find themselves immersed in the middle of family squabbles and Russian spies as Bucak read one of her stories titled “Good Fortune.”  

“Stories should be told at night, the time of dreams,” Bucak concluded, a sentiment that left a dreamlike languor, which soon after was met with a round of applause. Bucak responded to this overwhelming approval by indulging the audience in talking about the process of writing the novel. 

Starting off with the writing behind “Good Fortune,” Bucak talked about the inspiration coming from Franz Kafka’s “The Silence of the Sirens” and how the idea of “seductive voices of the night” kept her looking for elements of scope she could add to her stories. This resulted in a lot of travelling on her part, where Bucak talked about incorporating the concept of birth tourism in “Good Fortune” when she was staying at a hotel where critically acclaimed poet Michael Ondaatje stayed. “The room was tiny, there was a sofa bed, but Michael Ondaantje slept on that bed, so I was okay with it,” Bucak said laughing.    

Along with a good story, it was Bucak’s wit and charm that stuck with audiences for the remainder of the event, as she stumbled over questions with her humbling and quirky disposition. While the event itself was only a little under an hour long, the stories in The Trojan War Museum are timeless and will compel people to read them aloud and insist they experience it with each turn of the page.  

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