Ayşe Kulin was born in 1941 in Istanbul. Her Bosnian father Muhittin Kulin helped to build up the Ministry for Water and her mother, Sitare Hanım, was a Circassian and granddaughter of the first Ottoman Minister for Economic Affairs. Kulin grew up in Ankara but spent the summer months in Istanbul with her mother’s family, who were still bound to the old Ottoman codes – both worlds have had an equally strong influence on her writing. Kulin studied Literary Studies at the American College for Girls. She was an active Social Democrat during the first military putsch in 1960. During the 1980s she worked as an editor and reporter for Turkish newspapers and magazines, as well as creative producer for television, cinema and commercials. She won the Sait Faik Prize for Short Fiction in 1996 for her story »Foto Sabah Resimleri« (Engl: »Photo Sabah Pictures«, 2004). She published her first novel »Adi: Aylin« (2007, Engl: »Aylin«), which contains autobiographical references, in 1997, and was named Author of the Year by the Faculty for Literary Studies in Istanbul. In her novels, Kulin tackles socially and politically controversial themes: »My concern when writing is always to put my finger in the social wound.« In 1999 her novel »Sevdalinka« was published, about the repression of the Muslim minority and the Bosnian civil war. In preparation for her 2001 novel »Köprü«, Kulin undertook extensive research travels to be able to present an authentic picture of the lives of the predominantly Kurdish population of the eastern Turkish provinces. »Nefes Nefes’e« (2002, Engl: »Last Train to Istanbul«, 2006) is about how Turkish diplomats and members of the French Resistance saved Jews during the Second World War by helping them escape from Europe on the Orient Express: the novel is based on authentic accounts of Jewish survivors. Kulin’s novel »Bir Gün« (2005) was published in English in 2008 as »Face to Face«. It is about the encounter between two women, an imprisoned Kurdish politician and a Turkish journalist. The novel addresses explosive themes like state violence, torture and catastrophic jail conditions, insufficient educational opportunities for Kurds, poor civil rights for women, blood feuds and honour killings. During their confrontation, the two characters develop an understanding for the other’s situation and attitude.
Many of Ayşe Kulin’s stories and novels have been adapted for cinema, and have been translated into several languages. She is an honorary UNICEF Ambassador since 2007, and currently lives in Istanbul.