Turkish literature finds international audience through TEDA

Turkish literature has been translated into 39 languages and has reached 50 foreign countries thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's Translation Subvention Project (TEDA), which decided during its first meeting of the year to provide state funding for the translation of an additional 83 books. The authors whose literary works will be translated from Turkish into foreign languages as a result of the meeting held on July 28 include prominent authors such as the late Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar and Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk. The literary works of these two authors have already been read in a diverse range of countries, including Japan, Lebanon, Russia, Croatia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Ukraine, Poland and Germany. In addition to internationally renowned authors, TEDA, which predominantly supported the translation of classical Turkish literature in the past, will also feature promising young Turkish authors in its fifth year. 

The books of young writers such as Sema Kaygusuz, Sibel Türker, Ayfer Tunç, Murat Gülsoy and Tuna Kiremitçi will be published for audiences in a number of countries including Brazil, France, India, Syria and Romania. The current situation clearly shows the universal appreciation of Turkish literature, according to Culture and Tourism Ministry Deputy Director-General of Libraries and Publications Ümit Yaşar Gözüm, who stated: “During the past five years, we have supported 228 publishing houses and 576 literary works. 

In addition, at this year's first meeting we decided to support 83 works out of 170 applications. At the second meeting, to take place at the end of this year, we will again try to provide support for many other books. Having been the guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Turkey has started seeing progress in the availability of its literature abroad. We estimate that more than 150 [Turkish] books will be published in foreign languages every year.” Stating that TEDA is the face of Turkey in the intellectual arena, Gözüm continued: “There were four or five copyright agencies in Turkey before the launch of TEDA. Now this number is 13. The number of such agencies selling the rights [to Turkish authors' works] to international publishing firms must increase, since the publishing industry is a world in which there is little time and the relationships are formal. You cannot be a part of this world without having authors' copyrights, a summary of the translated works and a network of contacts.” 

In an interview, Tanpınar was once asked, “What do you think is necessary for our literature to be valued internationally?” Tanpınar replied: “Our writers and poets mingling with life and the world more and, then, time [is necessary]. Maybe before anything else, time … Let us not forget that our literature is only 80 years old.” Let us add TEDA to what Tanpınar once said is necessary. When we look at the progress made by TEDA, we see that it is gaining experience and has turned into a project that spreads Turkish literature throughout the world while standing on its own two feet. 

A few of the TEDA-supported books and the countries they will be published in: “Huzur” (A Mind at Peace) by Tanpınar will be published in Japan, Lebanon and Russia; “Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü” (The Time Regulation Institute) by Tanpınar will be published in Croatia, South Korea and Spain; “Masumiyet Müzesi” (Museum of Innocence) by Pamuk will be published in Spain, Sweden, Italy and Ukraine; “Beyaz Kale” (White Castle) by Pamuk to be published in Poland; “Gül ve Telve” (Rose and Coffee Grind) by Seyhan Erözçelik will be published in the US; "Dualar Kalıcıdır" (Prayers Stay the Same) by Kiremitçi will be published in Brazil and France, "Babil'de Ölüm İstanbul'da Aşk" (Death in Babel, Love in İstanbul) by İskender Pala will be published in Bulgaria; and "Aziz Bey Hadisesi" (Aziz Bey Phenomenon) by Tunç will be published in India and Syria.