I am Elchin Safarli I’m 35 years old. And I’m engaged in books. So I write books. You know what’s interesting?
I’ve had several successes in life. And of course it’s normal that I wanted someone to talk to me about it. But unfortunately, no one talks about it. During the last two years my books… and my name were entered in the Forbes list. For those who don’t know what that list is about,
you can search it on google. The most successful, the most sold… …products, or people. People who were sold out… No, I’m happy that I’m not sold out myself,
but my books sell pretty well. And so Forbes also included my name… …in that list. And what can I say? Anyway. You know what disappoints me? I don’t consider this as a success, to be honest with you. But all of my relatives talk about it. “Oh, you are in the Forbes list!
Can you lend me 200 manats?” “I’ll pay back at the end of the month.” But for me, it’s not a success. All of the press agencies were asking me about it. “You are the only writer from Azerbaijan who made it into the Forbes.” But for me it’s not important. I’m not trying to come across as a humble person. Really, it’s not something significant for me. When I was onthe Forbes list, I learnt about it from my team. Can you believe it? last year, in 2019, I was on a big tour. It was a promotion tour for one of my books. I went back to where I was staying. And opened one of the news portals. An Azerbaijani news portal.
To see what’s going on in Baku. And I see the headline – “Azerbaijani writer in the Forbes list”
and my picture under it. That’s how I learnt about it. It didn’t change anything in my life. Didn’t affect me one percent. I don’t even consider it a success. – Sorry?
– What’s success for you? What’s the goal? You know what is success for me? When I respect myself. When I’m by myself,.. or when I look in the mirror, when I see myself… If I have sense of respect for myself,.. …that is the greatest success for me. Everything else is insignificant. Before I used to be quite popular in Baku. My books in Russian, specifically. Then I went on hiatus. For about 6 years I didn’t make an appearance. Neither on TV, nor in book signing events. So for 6 years I wasn’t in Azerbaijan on a regular basis. Then I got an offer… …about translating my books into Azerbaijani. And they got translated. You know, it’s interesting that… Two months ago I had a signing event in Baku. Can you believe it, none of the people who used to come 7 years ago were there. Because I can remember their faces. It was a totally different audience. Those who got introduced to my thoughts
in Azerbaijani. Specifically in Azerbaijani. And it was very pleasant for me to see. You know why it was pleasant? Because I saw a ray of light in this society. You know. It is a big indication, if people buy books in a society… Doesn’t matter how much money you make. Say you earn 250 manats a month. If you spend 7.5 manats… …of that 250 paycheck for books,.. …even if only one book, once a month… …it says a lot about you. I have studied in Russian. At school. Beside I spoke Russian in the kindergarten. Later I studied in Russian at school. And my university education was in Russian as well. And I’ve worked in a Russian publishing house
for 12 years now. My grandmother was Russian. My grandma from my father’s side. It’s a language I love a lot. Now you’ll ask me how comfortable I’m with speaking Azerbaijani. I do speak it, and it’s a language I love as well. They’re just different for me.
There is no need to compare them. Languages, people, or circumstances. I don’t have a specific position on criticism. Before I used to get… …really affected by it. And especially where, let me say This Russian speaking community in Baku,
those 5000 people on Facebook… …that live in illusion thinking, they represent the whole of Azerbaijan. No, they don’t. It’s just an illusion. This Russian speaking community,.. …they were insulting me, offending my identity,.. “he is this, his books are that…”
Many people tell me… …that it comes from being envy.
But I never thought of it either. Why would you envy someone? I’ve never had that feeling towards anyone in my life. I think that a person is given… …so many chances by God that… If you want do this… If you want to do this work, do it. Improve yourself in that field. It’s not a problem right? What are they envious of? Of luck? That I’ve had good luck? No. It’s not about luck. It’s only… …about desire and effort. What I wanted to say is that… …they criticized me so much in Baku… …that I never received so much criticism anywhere else in the world. This Russian speaking circle. They’ve calmed down now. I’m not interesting for them anymore,
not their target. But a journalist friend of mine told me… “Elchin, whenever I write something about you… “they gather up and start talking.” Maybe I’m interesting, or different, that’s why.
As if they’re intellectuals, and we’re not. Now they’re going to say
“What a nasty person this guy is. So full of himself.” The content of your books revolve around Istanbul.
Yes. I love Istanbul a lot, as I said. That’s why I write about Istanbul. But not only Istanbul. I have written 12 books. And 5 of them are about Istanbul. The rest are about different countries. And I talk about the Absheron peninsula – the place of my birth
in the book “Tell Me About The Sea” The topic is Absheron, Azerbaijani culture. And I wrote about this. But I didn’t do it becaus I am Azerbaijani… …and I must write about Azerbaijan. No. I didn’t write it because of that. It’s because I love this land a lot. And it’s a way of expressing my gratitude to this land. (In Russian) Gratitude to this land. That’s it. – Which country are you read in the most? – Read what? – No, where are you read. – Oh where I’m read. My books are read in… Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, they don’t read me in Georgia, but they read in Armenia, they read in Azerbaijan. Almost all of the cities and countries… …of the USSR. I mean the cities of the former USSR,.. …is where my books are being read. They don’t read me much in Georgia,.. …maybe it’s related to Russian language. Because Russian is quite suppressed there at the moment. The sales are very low over there, because of this. But they’re read in all the other countries. I wrote a letter to Sabail City Hall. …wrote a long letter in Azerbaijani. I’m telling them, what is this?
You know, Uzeyir Hajibeyov lived here. Many great people lived here, and look at the condition of this yard. You always talk about our history,.. If Uzeyir Hajibeyov lived here,.. …if his funeral was taken to the cemetery from here,.. …then at least show some respect to this yard. Take care of it. Of course,.. it’s not that concerns the mayoralty solely,.. …much depends on people themselves. But there are some things that can`t be done without official permit. They could renovate the inside of the yard,.. …look at who lived in this place! We need to respect our history.
Okay you don’t respect me,.. …people who live here at the moment. At least have some respect for history. Our history. They think that… …I want to become a Member of Parlament. Why, it cannot come from love? You must necessarily be an MP? Does it have to be related to some material gain? I love this city, and I love this land. I love the heritage of this city. People who created here. Do you have have to be an MP?
No, I will not become an MP! Never! I’m telling you here. If I do, then you can show this video. I will not. – How about any governmental position? It’s another thing. But not an MP. If I can be useful,.. …actually they all start like this. “I am going to be helpful… ” Azad, the light is good here. So, what do the beginner writers… ..need to do. First of all, they need to write. You must go on writing. Whatever happens. Secondly, You must read a lot. Third. You must go to the theater at least twice a week. It doesn’t even matter, good theater, or bad. It’s all about your taste. in the first place. But the atmosphere of theater you must be in touch with it. Theater. Very important. And… And, and, and… You must be around people. Why do I often walk around the central streets? Not only central streets. I like wandering… …around the city. Not only the city. Wherever I go, a village,… a settlement. Because you see people. Alive characters. Life is the best of all directors. Who is the most talented director? He who sees life, and records it on a tape, on some written work. What do we value in a work of art? We say that it’s like in real life.
It’s how it happens in life. We must be strongly connected with life. That the way I see it. This is the board I was talking about.