Demir Özlü was born in Istanbul in 1935. There he studied Law at university and after graduating in 1959 moved to France, where he studied Philosophy at the Sorbonne. He went on to work as an academic assistant in the field of Philosophy of Law, and later practised law. After the military takeover in 1971 he assumed the vindication of the Deniz Gezmiþ Group – consisting of prominent resistance fighters who were later sentenced to death. After police repression against him culminated in his intermittent arrest, Özlü emigrated to Stockholm.
Like many Turkish writers of his generation, Özlü has been influenced by French Existentialism. He made his literary debut with poems published in the newspaper »Türk Dili« and later wrote stories imbued with an anti-bourgeois, individualistic tone. In 1964 he was awarded the Writer’s Prize from the Turkish language society Türk Dil Kurumu for his second volume of short stories »Soluma« (1963; Engl: Breathing In). On his return from Paris, he founded the literary newspaper »Mavi« (Engl: Blue) with writers Ferit Edgü and Güner Sümer and thereby originated the literary movement of the same name. In his works Özlü often presents the theme of life in the city and with supreme dexterity draws an elaborate and multi-faceted portrait of the city and its inhabitants. Istanbul is the location for most of his works, for example »Bir Beyoðlu Düþü« (1985; Engl: A Dream of Beyoðlu). Here, the cosmopolitan quarter Beyoðlu acts as a backdrop to the story of a young poet and his sinister love affair. The story was translated into German, as was »Istanbul Büyüsü« (1994; Engl: Magic Istanbul), featuring impressionist miniatures of everyday urban life. The Swedish capital, the author’s own chosen home city, provides the setting for »Stockholm Öyküleri« (1988; Engl: Stories of Stockholm) and also for »Sürgünde 10 Yýl« (1990; Engl: Ten Years in Exile). With a grant from the DAAD, Özlü spent three months in Berlin in 1989. Inspired by this and other visits to the German capital, the works »Berlin Güncesi« (1989; Engl: Berlin Diary) and »Berlin’de Sanrý« (1987; Engl: Berlin Hallucinations) came into being.
In 1989 Özlü received the prestigious Sait Faik Prize and, the following year, the Orhan Kemal Novel Prize for »Bir Yaz Mevsimi Romansý« (1990; Engl: A Summer Romance). His stories have appeared in various German literary magazines and anthologies. New translations of his works into German are in progress. Özlü has lived with his wife and two sons in Stockholm since 1979 and he has become a regular visitor to his birthplace Istanbul again since 1990.
Translator: Sezer Duru
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