Haber Kaynaðý Seç




Born in 1967, in Istanbul. Graduated from Robert College (1984) and Computer Engineering Department of Bosphorous University (1988). Received an M.S. in Physics (1993) from the same university. Worked at CERN—European Nuclear Research Center (1991—93) as a high energy physicist; in fact, was one of the first Turkish students to prepare a master thesis at CERN and was one of the first Turkish physicists to work on Higgs particle. She quit her scientific career while doing a PhD in physics in Rio de Janerio, when her first book came out (1994). She spent two years in South America and her interest in antropology took her as far as the Amazonian jungle. A few months after she returned to Turkey in 1996, she published her second book and since then, decided to devote all her time to writing.

In spite of havingisaretiisaretiisareti published as early as 1977 and her keen interest in literature, she had never wanted to be a writer. Even to her surprize, her first story “The Final Farewell Note” won a third prize in Yunus Nadi Competition (1990), the oldest surviving literary competition; but still, she postponed publishing her earlier work until 1991. She was in Brazil when her first novel “The Shell Man” came out. In 1996, she collected her stories and poetic prose under the tittle “The Miracolous Mandarin.” She became center of attention when her story “The Wooden Birds” won Deutsche Welle Prize, ed by an international jury amongst 830 stories. But it was her second novel, “The City in Crimson Cloak”, which established her as a writer. From 1998 to 2000, she worked as a columnist in a major newspaper (Radikal). In her column, named “The Others”, as well as writing short stories and prose, she often treated controversial issues, such as prisons, torture, violence against women, Kurdish rights, etc. Her articles, collected under the tittle “When a Journey Ends” (2000) brought her both popularity and trouble. She lost her job as a columnist, but her articles have been translated into over a dozen languages, including French, Danish, Dutch, Armenian and even Indonesian. In fact she has been a human rights activist since 1993. She went back to Radikal in 2010, lost her job again, and since April 2011, she has been writing regularly for the Kurdish paper ’Özgür Gündem’. Aside from these, Aslý Erdoðan has published poems, short stories, poetic prose, travel essays and political articles in a wide variety of media, both Turkish and international, such as the political magazine ’’Arena’’ (Sweden).

Her award winning story The Wooden Birds was published as a book in German (Holzvögel) and in Turkish by Deutsche Welle sponsoring and since then has been translated to ten other languages. The City in Crimson Cloak has been published in France by Actes Sud , Norway by Gyldendal, by sverlag (Germany), Soft Skull (USA), Cadmus (Syria and Lebanon) ,Buybook (Bosnian), Ramus (Swedish) and Bulgarien. The Miracolous Mandarin was first translated to French for Actes Sud, then to German ( Galata), Swedish ( Ramus), Bosnian (Buybook )and Norwegian (Gyldendal). Macedonian Bulgarien and Kurdish translations are about to be published.

Asli Erdogan was invited to give readings from her work in several cities as Cambridge, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Münich, Leipzig,Oslo, Stockholm, Stavenger, Paris, Saint Malo, Marseille, Lille,Metz, Lyon, Brussels, Antwerp, Den Haag, Lisbon, Wien, Salzburg, Malmö, Copenhagen, Lillehammer, Zürich,Basel, Jakarta, Surinam and Yerevan. She has part,c,pated in several major literarz festivals, such as Berlin, Copenhagen, St Malo, Winternachten etc and has done the ’’Main Speech’ in Lillehammer Literary Festival 2011.She was invited to take part in the LiteraturExpress organised by Lietraturwerkstat and financed by UNESCO. She has also acted as the spokesperson for Turkey in the PEN —Writers in Prison Commitee Meeting held in Katmandu in 2000. She was chosen as the first Turkish writer to be invited by the Armenian Writers’ for a conference held in Yerevan in October 2001. A member of PEN and Writers’ of Turkey and one of the founders of the Literary Forum and Diyarbakir Art Center, Asli Erdogan speaks English, Portuguese and some German.

Asli Erdogan has had various jobs and professions in her life: a research pysicist and a teaching assistant; a ballet dancer and a teacher of English; she did translations, wrote travel articles for a geography magazine, did social research, choreographed for street theatre, prepared radio programmes on classical music, did voluntary work with street children and prisoner families and lectured on various subjects, mainly literature and mythology. She is one of the founders of DSM, the first art and culture center in Diyarbakir, a Kurdish town devastated by the armed conflict, and held workshops, seminars and lectures there.


The year of 2003 marked a turning point in Asli Erdogan’s literary career. Her second novel was published in French by Actes Sud, with the title “La Ville dont la Cape est Rouge” (translator Esin Soysal—Dauvergne) and received a reasonably good attention from the French public and press. In August, the same novel was chosen into “Turkish Library Series,” a giant project by sverlag to translate 14 novels from the whole 105 years of Turkish prose into German. Asli Erdogan was the youngest of all writers and one of the four women. In September, Gyldendal, the biggest publisher in Norway, published the same book in “Marg Series” (“Marg” means both margin line and spinal chord in Norwegian). She was the first Turkish writer to appear along with Helene Cixous, W.G. Sebald, Nathan Englander, etc. The book received incredibly good reviews, Afterposten indicating it as one of the last of a kind, the city novel and comparing the author to Joyce and Kafka. In October, a very well known Turkish actress (Serra Yilmaz, receiver of “The Best Foreign Actress” prize in Italy) acted a part of her latest text “In the Silence of Life” in Milan’s Piccolo Theatre.

She published some more texts in French and ed “Joy of Babel” meeting held in St. Nazaire. In February 2005, she returned there as a resident writer and completed her book. In fact, the year of 2005 was to be a year of international readings, biennales, meetings and translations. She participated in Winternacten (Holland) and St. Malo festivals, St. Nazaire and Sarajevo meetings and Jakarta Biennale of Literature. Finally, she was chosen as one of the “50 promising writers of future” by the French Literary Magazine, Lire, and probably the only one from “a minor language.”

Starting with the “Autoportrait” International exhibition in 2002, Asli Erdogan was for the first time invited as a writing artist, she participated in several exhibitions and collaborated with artists from different disciplines. With her text “In the Silence of Life,” she took part in Istanbul Biennale 2003 and later exhibited in Diyarbakir Art Center. She worked in collaboration with the French artist François Daireaux, for his exhibition “Entrance” and wrote the text “La Nuit des Mots.” In 2004, she did a wall—writing project for an outdoor exhibition: “C.V. on a Prison Wall,” and ed Istanbul Biennale of 2005, in the exhibition “The Waiting Room.” And finally, another French artist, director and choreographer Bruno Marin, made her text in a dance—drama and performed in Istanbul and Diyarbakir. Finally she collaborated with an internationally recognized artist Ghada Amer to write with her text ‘Forest of Womanhood’.

In July 2005, she published “In the Silence of Life,” as a collection of poetic prose, a
style rarely tackled in Turkish literature, and brought together all those texts acted, photographed, exhibited, choreographed, turned into dance theatre etc. The book was chosen as “The Book of the Year” and was awarded Dunya Prize.

Excerpts from the book were made into a classic ballet to the music of Fazil Say as well as dance drama and drama. The book was published in Bulgarien and French by MEET, as a part of St Nazaire residency, with the tittle ‘A Call During the Night’.

The year 2008 was her breakthrough in German speaking world. ‘ Die Stadt mit der Roten Pelerine’, wonderfully translated by Angelika Koch and Angelika Gilltz Acar and published by sverlag, was enormously well received both by German literary circles and public. All together around 50 reviews, articles, interviews were published in almost all major newspapers in German, Austria and Switzerland as well as several TV interviews. Elke Heidenreich’s praising comments in the popular literature program ‘Lesen’ surely helped this interest and the sales. In fact, the book sold in German language more than its original. Same year, ‘ The Miracelous Mandarin’ appearing in Sweden with a small Publisher was chosen amongst the ‘Books of the Year’.

Asli Erdogan was a writer in residence in Heinrich Böll Haus for four months in 2008 and she did readings in almost all German cities , Salzburg , Linz and Rauris Festival. In May 2009, she published her latest book, ‘The Stone Building’, which received very good reviews in Turkey, most critics declaring it as her best book and was shortlisted for a prize. Actes Sud has allready agreed to publish the French translation. In October of 2009, two more of her books were published in French, ‘The Wooden Birds’ by Actes Sud and ‘ A Call at the Night’ by MEET. One of the short stories in the Actes Sud collection of short stories, ‘Captive’ was chosen for a scenario competition in Rennes. The winning scenario will be made into a short film. Year 2010 was a year of both tragedies and successes. Her latest book , TAS BINA, won the most prestigious literary prize in Turkey, Sait Faik Prize 2010. soon after the writer underwent a serious operation. The Swedish translation of “The City in Crimson Cloak”, November 2010, made almost an unexpected outbreak in Sweden, the author being the cover of both of the two major newspapers and the book receiving a dozen of extremely praising reviews. Asli Erdogan’s reading in Kultur Huset, Stockholm, which has hosted such writers as Ian Mc Ewan , Erica Jong this fall, was a huge success. Finally, Asli Erdogan was one of the writers and intellectuals chosen to discuss on the modernity in the presence of ex President of Germany, Mr. Köhler.

Prizes, Merits

* Yunus Nadi Prize—1990 with her short story, “The Final Farewell Note”

* Deutsche Welle Prize—1997 with her short story “The Wooden Birds”

Deutsche Welle organized a literary competition every two years,each time a different language chosen. The sixth and the last was for Turkish. Twenty stories amongst 830 were chosen by the Turkish prejury to be translated for the international jury. Asli Erdogan won the major prize with her story “The Wooden Birds”, which was published as a book in German “Holzvögel” and Turkish by Deutsche Welle sponsoring.

* Asli Erdogan was the youngest writer voted for 㨛 books of the 75 years of Republic”, with ’The City in Crimson Cloak’, which was chosen among ”the best novels of the last 25 years.” She was among the most succesful female writers of 1996, the best writers of 97, again of 98, 㨳 people of 1999”, nominated as ”the writer of the next millenium” , and was chosen amongst the ten people ’’who most influenced Turkish cultural scene in the last decade’’ in 2005.

* “The BOOK of the YEAR’’ P—2005 with her book “In the Silence of Life,” Dünya Press Awards.

* Chosen amongst the “50 Writers of Future” by French literary Magazine Lire, May 2005.
* Shortlisted for Balkanika Prize with ’’The Miraculeus Mandarin’’, chosen amongst the seven books to represent the seven languages spoken in the Balkans, lost the prize because the nomination was from the Fench edition while the original was published in 1996.

* ‘The Miracelous Mandarin’ was chosen amongst the books of the year in Sweden.

Sait Faik Prize , 2010,the most prestigious literary prize for her latest book, ‘ The Stone Building’


* “The Captive” was chosen as the French jury to be turned into a film script in French, a competition was held in Nantes and the winning scenario will be made into a film.

(The Stone Building 2009, Winner of Sait Faik Prize 2010)
Currently translated to French (Actes Sud), Swedish (Ramus) and Norwegian (Gyldendal)

(“The City In Crimson Cloak ”, Novel, 1998)
Actes Sud, (France) April 2003, tittled “La Ville dont la Cape est Rouge”
Gyldendal (Norway), Marg Series, September 2004
Soft Skull (USA), tittled ‘‘The City in Crimson Cloak ’’,2007
Cadmus (Syria and Lebanon), 2007
sverlag (Germany) , ‘ Die Stadt mit der Roten Pelerine’,February 2008
Bosnian (Buybook), 2010
Swedish (Ramus),2010
Bulgarien and Macedonian publications are on the way.

(“The Miraculous Mandarin”;Novella,1996)
Actes Sud (France), published May 2006
Ramus (Sweden), September 2008
Galata (German) September 2008
Buybook (Bosnien) March 2009
Gylendal (Norwegian) 2010
Soon to be published in Macedonian, Kurdish (LIS) and Bulgarien (Paradox).

“The Wooden Birds’’ A Collection of Short Stories
Published as “Holzvögel” in German in 1998 by Deutsche Welle—Onel, translated by Cornelius
Actes Sud(France), 2009
Paradox((Bulgaria), 2010

(“In The Silence of Life”; A Collection of poetic prose, 2005)
Translated into Italian by Serra Yilmaz and acted in Milan
“A Call at the Night’’ : Parts of the book, ’‘In the Silence of Life’’ was published in French by
MEET with this tittle as a part of the scholarship given by MEET.
Published in Bulgarien in October 2010 by Paradox

(“The Shell Man, Novel,1994)
Paradox,Bulgarien 2010

(“Diary of a Perturbed Woman”, “Once Again”, 2006, Collections of essays and political satire)

Other texts in French:
“Conversation avec le spectre d’un ermite” and “Ali” in M.E.E.T no 8 Pekin (Beijing)/Istanbul
“Le Bruit des Autres” in “Les Bonheurs de Babel”
“La Nuit des Mots” in collaboration with François Daireaux
“Les Oiseaux des Bois” in Etoiles d’Encre
’’Dans la Silence de la Vie’’ in Siecle 21, no 8
’’Journal de une Detraquee’’ , in Folie Issue of Bleu Autour

In other languages
Parts from ’’In the Silence of Life’’ were published in English in the ’’Living Together’’ Issue of Prince Claus Fund Journal, and in Bulgarian and in Indonesian.
Various articles of the authour have been published in Danish (’Broen’), English, Bulgarian, Flamish (De Morgen),French and Armenian.

Ahmet Ergül


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