Perihan Mağden was born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1960. After graduating from the city’s Robert College, where she already challenged the system, she studied Psychology at the Bosporus University. In 2006, the Turkish government filed charges against her for an article she published as a columnist a year earlier in the weekly magazine »Yeni Aktuel«. In it, Mağden defended a young Turkish man’s decision not to show up to serve with arms when he was conscripted, for which he was sent to prison. Mağden defended the man’s decision on the grounds that the United Nations regards conscientious objection as a human right. The trial for »alienating the people from the military« was accompanied by international protests by human rights organizations; she was acquitted on the grounds that her article was covered by freedom of the press.
Along with her work as a journalist for Turkish newspapers, including from 1997 to 2009 as a columnist for the daily newspaper »Radikal«, Mağden published several novels and a collection of poems. She had her literary debut in 1991 with the detective novel »Haberci çocuk cinayetleri« (Eng. »The Messenger Boy Murders«, 2003), which explores the human condition with black humor. Her 2002 story »İki Genç Kızın Romanı« (Eng. »Two Girls«, 2002) depicts the intense friendship between two completely different teenage girls (one a punk, the other dutiful) in a materialistic, male-dominated milieu; gradually, the girls realize that their relationship is impossible under the given circumstances. The British newspaper »The Independent« wrote that Mağden’s novel was the first since J. D. Salinger’s »The Catcher in the Rye« that had captured youthful suffering this vibrantly and irresistibly. In 2005, its film adaptation came to Turkish cinemas and was crowned with several awards at the respected Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival. In her novel »Biz kimden kaçıyorduk Anne?« (2007; Eng. »Whom Were We Running From«, 2010), she depicts in succinct but poetic language how a mother and daughter repeatedly set off, pell-mell, in fear of pursuers who remain in the dark. In 2010, Mağden wrote the novel »Ali ile Ramazan« (Eng. »Ali and Ramazan«, 2012), which was awarded Turkish Book of the Year. It is about the friendship of two orphan boys, which turns into a tender-cruel love in the struggle for survival on Istanbul’s streets, where they end up when they come of age. Most recently, her novel »Yıldız Yaralanması« (2012; tr. Star wound) and her essay »Tehlikeli Temayüller« appeared in Turkish (2014).
In 2008, Perihan Mağden received the Freedom of Thought and Expression Prize of the Association of Turkish Publishers. She lives in Istanbul.