23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Oya Baydar
© Hartwig Klappert

Oya Baydar

Oya Baydar was born in 1940 in Istanbul, Turkey. She went to Notre Dame de Sion, a French private school in Istanbul. Inspired by French writer Françoise Sagan, she published her first novel while still a student in school. She attended Istanbul University and graduated in 1964 with a degree in Sociology. Her doctoral thesis on labour forces in Turkey was rejected twice by the University’s council; after following student protests she later became a lecturer at Hacettepe University. Oya Baydar was an active member of the Workers Party of Turkey and was also engaged in the Teachers’ Union of Turkey, which led to her arrest during the military putsch in 1972. She was dismissed from the University and worked after her release as a journalist for newspapers such as Yeni Ortam (New Environment) and Politika (Politics). After the coup d’état on September 12, 1980, she had to flee Turkey and lived in exile in Germany (Frankfurt am Main) until 1992. She witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, and returned to literature. This period is depicted in the collection of short stories »Elveda Alyoşa« (1991; tr: Farewell Alyosha), that earned her the Sait Faik Price.
In 1992 she was able to return to Turkey. Oya Baydar’s short stories and novels placed her among the most eminent writers in Turkey and beyond. Her novel »Kayıp Söz« (2007; Eng. »The Lost Word«, 2011) brings the Turkish-Kurdish conflict to the fore. The story explores the effects of violence, the tragedies, the pain and loss on both sides. According to her, all novels that “deal in some way with political or social issues are historical documents.” One of her most famous and popular novels is the book »Sıcak Külleri Kaldı« (2000; tr: Only Hot Ashes Remained) for which she was awarded the Orhan Kemal Novel Award in 2001.
In »Erguvan Kapısı« (2004; tr: The Judas Tree Gate) the protagonists have to deal with the identities they have created for themselves, based on their convictions; to protect their identity they even sacrifice their lives. But the main protagonist of the book is the mythical city of Istanbul. Oya Baydar won one of the most prestigious literary prizes for this novel, the Cevdet Kudred Literature Award.
Oya Baydar’s work has been translated into more than 20 languages, including German, French, English, Arabic, Portuguese and Greek. The author currently lives in Turkey and splits her time between Istanbul and the island of Marmara.


Elveda Alyoşa

Can Yayınları

Istanbul, 1991

Sıcak Külleri Kaldı

Can Yayınları

Istanbul, 2000

Verlorene Worte


Berlin, 2008

[Ü: Monika Demirel]

Das Judasbaumtor


Berlin, 2011

[Ü: Monika Demirel]

O Muhtesem Hayatiniz

Can Yayınları

Istanbul, 2012