Ece Temelkuran


Ece Temelkuran (b. 1973) is a Turkish writer, journalist and political commentator. Her columns have been published in leading international newspapers such as The Guardian and Le Monde. Temelkuran has received many honours for her work, such as the Free Thought and Democracy Award (2009) and the Pen for Peace Award (2001).

Her subjects have included the Kurdish and Armenian questions, the women's movement, and political prisoners - highly controversial topics in Turkey. Temelkuran's criticism of the Turkish government - which is often no more than thinly veiled in her articles - led to her dismissal from the Turkish newspaper Habertürk.

She made her debut as an author with the poetry collection Bütün Kadınların Kafası Karışıktır (1994). Since then she has published a number of essay collections and novels, which have been translated into English, Arabic, German, Dutch, and Croatian.

Deep Mountain: Across the Turkish-Armenian Divide, the English translaion of Ağrı'nın Derinliği, appeared in 2010. This book is Temelkuran's ‘personal and political journey to the heart of the Turkey-Armenia conflict, a nuanced and moving exploration of the living history and continuing denial of the Armenian genocide.' Book of the Edge, the English translation of her collection of poetry Kıyı Kitabı, was also published in 2010 (by BOA Editions). Temelkuran's most recent publication is Devir (Everest, 2015).

Ece Temelkuran will be a writer-in-residence in Brussels in December 2015. Her residency is part of a joint initiative with Europalia 45/25


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© Photo: Muhsin Akgün 


Authors' text

Dear Annelies,

This letter is written to you because of the intense conversations we had about being a writer in the land of war and conflict and writing for the Western world.
I don't exactly recall your question that started our conversation about the particular issue but I remember myself almost hysterically talking about being a writer in and outside Turkey: "It is like a stage without a back-stage. It is like performing for two irrelevant audiences demanding totally different plays. It is damn tiring. Consuming."

Being very well aware of misery in using the word "performing", I carried on with something like this: "The Europeans are secretly asking from you to be the oppressed intellectual, agonizing artist etc. That reduces the writer to this one paragraph of CV, consisting of expressions like ‘fired from her work', ‘censored in several media' bla bla bla... And they almost never have the patience to listen to the rest of the story."

"On the other hand" I said, "The country is in such a mess that it becomes impossible to think clearly, to create or to contemplate the situation. They, as well, reduce you to ‘taking a stand'. You don't write, you don't think, you just take a stand and shout with people alike. It is madness. And damn tiring too."

When I arrived from Istanbul in Brussels, to the "housing the heart of Europe", the "house" was locked down. To my luck, Europe was too occupied to ask for a performance from "the oppressed writer". So here it was, a spacious back stage. Uninterrupted yet uncharted reading, writing and walking were deeply missed. So, I did all. Moreover, the few people I met (Catherine Vuylsteke, Dirk Vermaelen, Bozena Coignet, Johny and the others) throughout the stay were surprisingly interested in the "rest of the story". This might be the only one-month-time in several years that I did not talk about politics and did not perform at all. My soul was stripped off the stage requirements. So, dear Annelies, this is why you caught me off guard, on the back stage, without the costume, off the role.

I am thankful for our conversation and my own embarrassing excitement when talking about the issue, because in a very long while that was the first time that I acknowledged how tired I am. Well, I guess it is about time that I leave the "play".

Thank you.


Passa Porta
23.11.15 > 21.12.15

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