Culture
01/12/2019

Turkish Literature Goes International

AIDA Tours
Turkish Literature Goes International

Regarded as the most important event for the publication sector, the Frankfurt Book Fair chose Turkey as “Guest of Honour” in 2008. Befitting the slogan “Turkey in All Its Colours”, the country was presented at Frankfurt in major creative disciplines including cinema, performing arts, music and most importantly, literature. More than 700 artists appeared at a variety of events at the fair.

Five years later, there was a similar occasion in the UK. Turkey was the “Market Focus” at the 2013 London Book Fair. Turkey showcased at the event with experiences gained at Frankfurt and successfully introduced its talent with contributions by celebrated authors.

Undoubtedly, the Nobel Prize in Literature played a significant role in the extent of international attention to Turkish literature, first at Frankfurt and then at London. In 2006, Orhan Pamuk became the first writer to bring the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature to Turkey. This raised interest in Turkish literature and paved the way for its global popularity.

“I read a book one day, and my whole life was changed.” So begins “The New Life”, Orhan Pamuk's fabulous novel. We’re not claiming a life changing experience, but who knows, maybe Orhan Pamuk or some other Turkish novelist could be holding the key to a whole new world you are yet to discover…

Istanbul is always central, to the extent of becoming a persona in Turkey’s first and “for now” only Nobel Prize Winning author Orhan Pamuk’s novels. In other words, his stories make readers experience Istanbul, the magnificent metropolis which unites East and West, in all its vivid colours.Istanbul is always central, to the extent of becoming a persona in Turkey’s first and “for now” only Nobel Prize Winning author Orhan Pamuk’s novels. In other words, his stories make readers experience Istanbul, the magnificent metropolis which unites East and West, in all its vivid colours.

 

 

After Orhan Pamuk, the second best-selling Turkish author whose work has been translated into the English language is Elif Şafak. Similarly, her stories also take place at the crossroads of continents. Şafak’s essays have appeared in many international publications and most recently we saw her name in the Financial Times “Women in 2017” list.

 

 

 

“Phenomenal” is how you might describe it… Sabahattin Ali’s acclaimed Kürk Mantolu Madonna (Madonna in a Fur Coat) has been on the best seller list in Turkey for quite some time. Recently adapted as a stage play, the popular novel is praised by English readers alike. So much so that Madonna in a Fur Coat is said to become a pioneering novel that will grant Turkish literature a broader audience abroad.

 

 

 

As much as his novels like Huzur (A Mind at Peace) and Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü (The Time Regulation Institute), Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar has also made major contributions to Turkish literature with academic works like “History of Literature”. A short while ago, a Literary Research Centre was opened in his name. Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, novelist Orhan Pamuk expressed Tanpınar’s influence on him in these words: “I built myself reading Tanpınar. He was passionate about our culture. His novel A Mind at Peace had a profound effect on my writing.”As much as his novels like Huzur (A Mind at Peace) and Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü (The Time Regulation Institute), Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar has also made major contributions to Turkish literature with academic works like “History of Literature”. A short while ago, a Literary Research Centre was opened in his name. Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, novelist Orhan Pamuk expressed Tanpınar’s influence on him in these words: “I built myself reading Tanpınar. He was passionate about our culture. His novel A Mind at Peace had a profound effect on my writing.”

 

Turkish literature gets translated into languages other than English. Ayşe Kulin’s novel Nefes Nefese (English title: Last Train to Istanbul), was published in Italian (L'Ultimo Treno Per Istanbul) which received Italy’s prestigious Premio Roma Prize in 2016 in the Best Foreign Novel of The Year category. A long-time best seller in Turkey, Adı: Aylin (Aylin) was also translated into Italian. Kulin frequently portrays powerful female characters in her novels.Turkish literature gets translated into languages other than English. Ayşe Kulin’s novel Nefes Nefese (English title: Last Train to Istanbul), was published in Italian (L'Ultimo Treno Per Istanbul) which received Italy’s prestigious Premio Roma Prize in 2016 in the Best Foreign Novel of The Year category. A long-time best seller in Turkey, Adı: Aylin (Aylin) was also translated into Italian. Kulin frequently portrays powerful female characters in her novels.

 

Ahmet Ümit is another acclaimed Turkish author whose novels have been translated into other languages. The popularity of his crime novels is only surpassed by his main character Başkomser Nevzat (Chief Inspector Nevzat). Recently, Ümit was the topic of the Symposium on “Translating Ahmet Ümit’s Work into World Languages” and translators of his books in 12 languages met with the novelist in Istanbul. Better get ready for a new Başkomser Nevzat adventure in 2018.Ahmet Ümit is another acclaimed Turkish author whose novels have been translated into other languages. The popularity of his crime novels is only surpassed by his main character Başkomser Nevzat (Chief Inspector Nevzat). Recently, Ümit was the topic of the Symposium on “Translating Ahmet Ümit’s Work into World Languages” and translators of his books in 12 languages met with the novelist in Istanbul. Better get ready for a new Başkomser Nevzat adventure in 2018.

 

Known for his extraordinary contributions to classical poetry in Turkey and his role in the rediscovery and better-understanding of Divan (Ottoman) literature, Iskender Pala surprised his followers when he published his first crime novel Abum Rabum in late 2017. A Professor of Literature, Iskender Pala is best known for his novels Babil’de Ölüm İstanbul’da Aşk (Death in Babylon, Love in Istanbul), Katre-i Matem (Grief Drop) and Şah ve Sultan (Shah & Sultan). Many of the author’s books have multiple editions, received numerous prizes and translated into foreign languages. Known for his extraordinary contributions to classical poetry in Turkey and his role in the rediscovery and better-understanding of Divan (Ottoman) literature, Iskender Pala surprised his followers when he published his first crime novel Abum Rabum in late 2017. A Professor of Literature, Iskender Pala is best known for his novels Babil’de Ölüm İstanbul’da Aşk (Death in Babylon, Love in Istanbul), Katre-i Matem (Grief Drop) and Şah ve Sultan (Shah & Sultan). Many of the author’s books have multiple editions, received numerous prizes and translated into foreign languages. 

Hakan Günday has become one of the leading young writers in Turkey. His work is labelled “underground” however it’s needless to say that he has created his own unique style, praised by his loyal fan-base. And now, he is set to broaden his reach with a feature film adapted from his novel Daha (More). In the book introduction of his 2013 novel More it writes: “Leave a man desperate and he will build a rocket from his inner organs! Right now, as you read these words, some people, somewhere are preparing to embark on a stygian journey, struggling to flee their homeland struck by war, hunger and poverty. But, this story is not about the victims, it’s about a human trafficker named Gazâ. And he’s only nine.”Hakan Günday has become one of the leading young writers in Turkey. His work is labelled “underground” however it’s needless to say that he has created his own unique style, praised by his loyal fan-base. And now, he is set to broaden his reach with a feature film adapted from his novel Daha (More). In the book introduction of his 2013 novel More it writes: “Leave a man desperate and he will build a rocket from his inner organs! Right now, as you read these words, some people, somewhere are preparing to embark on a stygian journey, struggling to flee their homeland struck by war, hunger and poverty. But, this story is not about the victims, it’s about a human trafficker named Gazâ. And he’s only nine.”

Since the early 1970’s, Zülfü Livaneli has been very popular in Turkey with his music, movies and writing. It goes without saying that his achievements have been recognised internationally. Most recently Livaneli published Elia ile Yolculuk (Journey with Elia) – a book on his memories with famed Hollywood director and close friend Elia Kazan. Livaneli is about to step into Hollywood himself with his novel Serenad (English title: Serenade for Nadia). Speaking on Serenad, Livaneli said: “The Germans and Americans bought the rights. It’s set to be a big production. A Hollywood movie. This is the first time a Turkish novel has become a Hollywood adaptation.”Since the early 1970’s, Zülfü Livaneli has been very popular in Turkey with his music, movies and writing. It goes without saying that his achievements have been recognised internationally. Most recently Livaneli published Elia ile Yolculuk (Journey with Elia) – a book on his memories with famed Hollywood director and close friend Elia Kazan. Livaneli is about to step into Hollywood himself with his novel Serenad (English title: Serenade for Nadia). Speaking on Serenad, Livaneli said: “The Germans and Americans bought the rights. It’s set to be a big production. A Hollywood movie. This is the first time a Turkish novel has become a Hollywood adaptation.”

Truly, these are a few selected works. There are many more literary talents that deserve to be mentioned. First and foremost, the great masters Nâzım Hikmet and Yaşar Kemal. Several other best-selling writers in Turkey like Oğuz Atay, Yusuf Atılgan, İhsan Oktay Anar, Sait Faik Abasıyanık have recently been discovered by foreign readers.

 

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