Unlike Moroccan-Dutch authors, Turkish-Dutch writers go largely unnoticed, with Murat Isik (Be invisible) and Özcan Akyol (Eus) as notable exceptions. Why, as opposed to their fellow authors, are they successful?
As in several other European countries, the end of the last century in the Netherlands saw the emergence of a multicultural literature written by second-generation immigrants. Unlike writers of Moroccan origin, however, Turkish-Dutch authors are barely visible in the literary field, with two notable exceptions: Özcan Akyol and Murat Isik. How and why did these writers achieve a breakthrough in the past decade with their respective novels Eus (2012) and Wees onzichtbaar [‘Be invisible’] (2017)? My analysis covers not only textual aspects such as theme and style, but also literary sociological factors, in particular, the awarding of prizes, authors’ self-fashioning and media exposure, and reader appreciation. To this end, I use both professional criticism and amateur reviews posted on Bol.com, the Dutch market leader in online book sales, and Hebban.nl, the largest online reader community in the Netherlands. The bestselling status of the two novels appears to be due to different factors: while the success of Wees onzichtbaar is entirely the result of high praise from both literary critics and consumer reviewers, in the case of Eus, Akyol’s strong television and social media presence clearly contributed to the book’s success.