The Librarian Is In


“Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey” is a graphic novel by Ozge Samanci.

Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer is liaison to the Anderson Freeman Center, the Arabic Department, the Comparative Literature Program, the Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies (GSFS) Program, the Language Schools, the Linguistics Program, and the Department of Spanish & Portuguese.

“Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey” is a graphic novel and memoir that tells the story of Ozge Samanci. The second daughter of two teachers, Samanci’s work recounts her growing up in Izmir, Turkey and how she became a cartoonist. Pulling in her country’s political tensions during the late 20th century, Samanci shows the many ways in which nationalistic regimes, militaristic propaganda and religious ideals can stifle secular and liberal minds. 

As Samanci tries to please her parents, map a path to a stable future and indulge her creativity, she encounters academic discipline, failing grades and crumbling self-esteem. She knows that she is artistic, but how will she pursue a career that will allow her to pay her bills? While her mother is optimistic, her father makes it clear that her whimsical plans of studying anything but engineering simply won’t do.

I saw this book in another university library in Los Angeles and both the title and the cover art drew me in. The title caused me to start thinking about the ways I have been a disappointment. My grandfather, for example, asked me to study medicine, something I had never expressed interest in. And my father didn’t think creative writing, one of my majors, would be terribly lucrative. (So far, he was right. ;)) I think a more productive conversation would have centered the question, “Katrina, what do you enjoy, what are you good at and how can you shape a career around your talents?” I’m sure many readers of this column are asking themselves just that. 

The work is both a “bildungsroman,” or a “coming of age novel,” and a memoir. For other memoirs that include characters surrounded by less-than-desirable circumstances and descriptions of how they beat the odds, see one of my all-time favorites Angela’s Ashes (Davis Family Library E184.I6 M117 1996) by Frank McCourt, which engages Ireland and poverty, or comedian Tiffany Haddish’s recent release The Last Black Unicorn (General Browsing-Davis Family Library PN2287.H144 A3 2017), which speaks of how she navigated her life in years of foster care.