Aslı Erdoğan was born in Istanbul in 1967. With her origins in the secular middle class, she attended the English-medium school Robert Lisesi and studied computer science at the Bosphorus University, Istanbul. She then worked at the Faculty for Physics at her university and for the European Organisation for Nuclear Research CERN in Geneva, where she completed her master’s degree at the same time wrote her first novel. »Kabuk Adam« (t: The Shell Man) appeared in 1994, while Erdoğan prepared her doctoral thesis. She never finished her studies but she did finish her short story »Mucizevi Mandarin« (1996; t: The wonderful Mandarin), which was published after her return to Turkey following travels in South America and Africa. Since then Erdoğan has made her living as a writer.
Using stylistic tools belonging to postmodernism and traditions from world literature, she explores both her Turkish heritage and a sense of the foreign through an undogmatic gaze. Against the background of a globalized world the fields of freedom and solitude are plumbed and the porous relationship of reality and illusion is portrayed. As a means of orientation Erdoğan, the human rights activist, focuses on tracing suffering and injustice. »Mucizevi Mandarin« tells the story of a young woman who becomes blind in one eye after her lover deserts her, and plunges into melancholy and a dream world of nightly walks and visits to coffeehouses, by Lake Geneva. The short story »Tahta kuşlar« (t: Wooden birds), which in 1996 won the prize of the radio station Deutsche Welle, depicts a multinational group comprised of very different young women and their moving collective longing to participate in life. Erdoğan’s novel »Kırmızı Pelerinli Kent« (2003; Eng. »The City in Crimson Cloak«, 2007) has been translated into twelve languages and will come out in Germany in 2008. The novel depicts Rio de Janeiro – from the perspective of a young Turkish woman on the verge of losing sense of self – as a metropolis that is as vital as it is brutal and merciless. The author’s most recent novel, »Hayatın Sessizliğinde« (2005; t: In the calm of life), was adapted as a dance piece and named Book of the Year by the Dünya Publishing House.
Erdoğan is a member of PEN and the Turkish Writer’s Union as well as a founding member of the Art and Literature Forum of Diyarbakır, where she regularly gives workshops, seminars and readings. She writes for various newspapers and, from 1998 to 2000, wrote a column for the Turkish paper »Radikal«. A selection of her articles and commentaries, most of which address human rights issues, has been published in two volumes to date. Following the assassination of a friend, the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Erdoğan has, not for the first time, attracted the wrath of Nationalists for her opinions ex presse d in public. The author lives in Istanbul.
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