Fethiye Cetin was a student when she discovered her grandmother's secret. Until then, she'd always known the woman who brought her up as Seher, the pillar of what seemed a typical Anatolian family. The bombshell came while the two were talking one day in Ankara. Seher's real name was Heranush, and she was Armenian. Nine years old when the little-known massacre of Armenians started in 1915, she had cowered in a churchyard as the village men were murdered and thrown in the river. Forced with the women and children onto the road to Syria, she was abducted and handed over to a police corporal who brought her up as his own child. Such tales are common in Turkey's eastern provinces. What makes Heranush's story unusual is that her granddaughter decided to turn it into a book. 'She had hidden the things she told me for over 60 years,' explains Ms Cetin, now a lawyer based in Istanbul. 'I felt they needed to be given a voice.' But Ms Cetin also wanted to help move the debate away from barren disputes over statistics and terminology: 300,000 killed? No, 1 million. Genocide? No, ethnic cleansing. Such arguments, she says, 'hide the lives and deaths of individuals and do nothing to encourage people to listen'. Turks have certainly been listening to her. Published last November, My Grandmother is already in its fifth edition. Ms Cetin attributes the success to the growing impatience Turks feel for the official discourses on Turkish identity that have traditionally held sway in the country. 'When books like this come out, even people with very different family histories begin to realise they aren't the only ones to question what they have been taught,' she says. And nowhere is this more evident than on the Armenian issue. Five years ago, the taboo was almost total. An account of Seher's life, published in an Istanbul-based Armenian newspaper in 2000, was ignored. Now, there are Armenian cookery books and novels. In January, an Istanbul gallery hit the headlines with an exhibition of 500 postcards showing Turkish Armenians between 1900 and 1914. Much of the credit for breaking the silence must go to historian Halil Berktay, who in October 2000 became the first intellectual in Turkey publicly to describe the events of 1915 as genocide. Today, he is convinced the space for intelligent debate on the past is growing rapidly. 'Beneath the bluster,' he says, referring to a recent hate campaign against novelist Orhan Pamuk, 'the Turkish establishment position is crumbling.' He notes that unlike its nationalist predecessor, the country's present government has refrained from statements of denial about Turkey's actions in 1915. At different stages in the past half century, Turkish diplomats were instructed either to leave international conferences when genocide was mentioned in connection with Armenia, to describe the deportations as a necessary measure against Armenian treachery or to argue that the debate should be left to historians. Last week, senior politicians from Turkey's main parties called for the events of 1915 to be 'researched under United Nations arbitration. If there is a need to settle accounts with history, we are ready', they said.