Elif Shafak – a Gem of Contemporary Turkish Literature

By Leah Süss

After four semesters of studying English, I have realized that the novels that touch me most belong to the field of postcolonial literatures. However, my interest in “non-Western” literature had already been sparked years before university. I realised early on that immersing into a different culture’s experiences and its stories can be highly enriching, as it allows me a better understanding of other people’s realities, which finally enabled more tolerance and a better understanding of the world’s complexity. Reading a story of a white woman’s struggles in early Europe, for example, is touching as it seems to be easy to identify with the protagonist. But what about being confronted with a Kurdish male character who decides to kill his mother in the name of honour? This may sound less comfortable but, all in all, it can be extremely helpful to understand important issues with religious and cultural differences that are still prevalent today.                                                            

One of my favourite authors who allowed me such an experience is Elif Shafak. Having read almost every novel of hers, I count three of her books to my all-time favourites. Currently, I am reading her latest novel, and she keeps amazing me. Thus, I would like to introduce you to this talented and inspiring Turkish woman.

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Podcasts for the Summer Months (and the Rest of the Year)

Imagine: a hot summer’s day. You’re lying on a slightly scratchy towel, next to the lake, still dripping from having taken a dip. The sun is slowly warming up your limbs, and your wet hair clings to your scalp. You’re feeling utterly content. It’s too hot to read a book – the effort of having to hold it up and turn the pages feels too much to bear in this moment. You put in your earphones instead, to block out the sound of the wailing children nearby, and you put on a podcast.

Which podcast, you ask? Here’s a list of recommendations.

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Young, Bohemian, Obsessed: Three Novels

By Stephanie Heeb

After three years of reading the books listed on a syllabus or on one of multiple reading lists, which were mostly filled with books from preceding centuries, last year was the year I fell back in love with contemporary fiction. Having the complete freedom to choose what I wanted to read, I browsed bookshops with immense pleasure and excitement. I read a lot and I read widely; from children’s fiction to classics to commercial romance. Only when I looked back recently, however, did I notice that three of my favourite books from that year showed significant, almost curious, similarities: all published after 2016, they were all written by young, Irish female writers, and all treat themes so similar, that I started interrogating myself about why it was that I was drawn to those specific books.

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Celestial bl(ack)ue

By Daria Galkina

If I am celestial blue,
Is there any celestial black?
In velvet,
Embroidered with beads?
In sequin,
Opaque and matted,
Noble.

Is there any celestial black?
In glory,
With cut out uncertainty;
Neat-handed
And with a lindy-hop talent
For dancehall?

Is there any celestial black
In grace?
Tits looking fit in décolleté,
Heels with the heels,
Glittery lipstick, smoky eyes –
Looking sharp?

If I am celestial blue,
Is there any celestial black?
23 y.o.,
Perky and beckoning,
Confident,
Red haired and weary,
Effeminate?

Hidden Swiss Treasures

By Alina Mamedova

What things or who are considered to be the main hallmarks of Switzerland? Swiss cheese? Swiss chocolate? Swiss knives? Swiss fondue and raclette? Roger Federer? Swiss banks? Well, and how about figure skating? In my experience, myriad people do not relate figure skating to Switzerland at all, and I cannot wait to show you that these two have a lot to do with each other.

Here, I need to take a little time with a preamble before pushing forward. I am myself a foreign student, who did not know much about Switzerland before coming here. What did I know about this amazing country? Of course, I knew that Switzerland was kind of a wonderland with its amazing nature, fresh air, the best chocolate in the world, ski resorts, and, strange to many of my Swiss friends as it may sound – Stephane Lambiel, Sarah Meier, and Denise Biellmann. The cream of the crop of Swiss and international figure skating.

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An English Student in Paris

Enora Maurer studies English and French at the University of Zurich. Since Septemeber of last year, she has been on an exchange in Paris, studying at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3.

Studying in Paris! Even as an English student it is an exceptional experience. Granted, I am not primarily in Paris to study English, as I am doing my exchange with the French department. However, last semester I was able to take English seminars from the “monde anglophone”, as well, which I really enjoyed. 

Of course, everybody had warned me that the level would be much lower here than in Zurich, as the stereotype that English is not considered a French speciality is deeply anchored in people’s minds (which, I have to say, was mostly contradicted within the “monde anglophone”). Having nevertheless been prepared for anything, I must say that I was positively surprised; or relieved, maybe, as I had expected much worse. For one, the work load for English seminars was much higher than for the French ones, so in that respect it is similar to Zurich. 

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Welcome back to ZEST

Welcome (back) to ZEST, The Zurich English Student newspaper.

We thought it was about time the site had a bit of a makeover, and now you can see the result – let us know what you think!

Don’t worry though – nothing has gone. All posts from 2011 to 2017 are safely stored in the archive where you’ll be able to find them easily if you search for a specific title, author or tag. Or just have a browse, there are some hidden gems to be found! If you’re interested in writing an article, a review or anything at all for ZEST, head over to the ‘About’ section or contact us on zest.editor@gmail.com. And remember, this is your paper – any feedback or suggestions are highly welcome.

Meanwhile, we have some exciting posts coming up, so make sure you follow the blog, or The Zurich English Student on Facebook and Twitter, to stay in the loop. 

Love,

The ZEST team

She Has Time

Senar Arcak

This was amongst my very first attempts in creative writing. I have always liked stories with a bit of weirdness and tried to in this very amateur writing to bring about the idea that “We are all a bit weird sometimes” with unexpected qualities. I wanted to share it with you, I hope you enjoy it!

What is about time that makes it so precious? Isn’t it something that humanity imagines and then measures? For Sarah and Nova the timing of their meeting was a good omen. It was two weeks ago in a crossroad of Irvington when Sarah lost control of her bike and almost took Nova’s left eye out. She wished she were dead instead of embarrassing herself in front of such a handsome man. But when she saw Nova just staring at her, she could do nothing except for asking his name, in half a smile half a blush. But within her excitement and happiness she never forgot time was tricky and wondered if that was an illusion too.

Now, Sarah has just moved into a bigger place in Lane Road, Irvington, and she thinks it is time she invited Nova to her new place for their third date. She cannot stop herself from looking out the window to see Nova. She knows that he is supposed to be with her now, but she doesn’t check the time to know that. 

Her new place has a cozy kitchen with light wooden floors and a big white window above the sink. Even though the kitchen is invaded with the heavy and sour smell of baked potatoes, roasting duck, and wine, Sarah doesn’t open the window or the curtains. The curtains in the new house are almost always closed. The coziness of the new place is wounded by the dimness and thus a sullen quietness rules the house.

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What Was the “Matrix” Trilogy All About?

Matrix 1

By Gabriel Renggli

The Matrix movies are a strange beast. The Matrix redefined the action genre, using cinematography, choreography, costumes, and special effects to raise shoot-outs and punch-ups to new levels of stylisation. The Matrix Reloaded was bigger, louder, and less focused, but cool enough to have our teenage selves excited, for the most part. The Matrix Revolutions was my first big lesson in how thoroughly an anticipated production can let down its fan base. Revolutions helped to get underway some considerable backlash, as people started looking more critically at the other two films, too. By now, the consensus seems to be that we allowed ourselves to be taken in by a case of form over substance. As in: boy, did these films ever look good, but, boy, did they make no sense at all from a story-telling or philosophical point of view.

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