Latife Tekin (b. 1957)
She was born in 1957, in the village of Karacafenk in Kayseri. She moved to Istanbul with her family when she was 9. She graduated from Beşiktaş Girls’ High School. After working as an officer for a period, she chose writing as a career. Before the 1980 coup d’état, she joined the leftist revolutionary action as an active militant. She wrote her first novel at a very early age during the coup d’état.
In 1984, the movie, “A Sip of Love,” whose script she wrote, claimed 5 awards including the best picture, in the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival. The movie also received the best picture award in the International Istanbul Cinema Days in 1985. She was one of the founders of the “Gümüşlük Academy, Arts, Culture, Ecology and Scientific Research Centre Foundation” in Bodrum in 1995. In the academy, where she worked as the general secretary, she organized many arts and culture events with the artists and writers who support a life style in nature. Every year the activities of the foundation along with the interest towards the foundation increases highly. Her novels have been translated into many languages, including English, French, German, Italian and Dutch. In 2004 she was chosen as the literature representative in the list “10 Women Who Made a Difference This Year” which was prepared by Elle magazine.
Her first novel Dear Shameless Death, published in 1983, caught attention with its success. The novel depicts the story of a family who migrated from a rural area to the city through the fairytale language of the little girl of the family, Dirmit. The writer effectively
portrays the experience of not being the subject of one’s own life since childhood in a patriarchal society and the blind alley of not being able to find the escape. As Berna Moran highlights, in this novel Tekin manages to use the Anatolian narrative culture in the novel and
creates a new style (75). As she tries to tell the story of the poor using their own language, she is seen as exemplifying magical realism, following the likes of Yaşar Kemal and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. However in the TV program “Sözünü Sakınmadan”, Latife Tekin rejected
the comparison between her works and Yaşar Kemal, indicating that Yaşar Kemal’s magical realism is “big and epic” while hers is humble. In the same program, she also stated how much she was affected by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar and Nazım Hikmet.
From 2000, the subjects of her novels begin to change, making nature an issue of central importance. As Ömer Türkeş and Semih Gümüş highlight in “Sözünü Sakınmadan,” in her late works she has moved away from focusing on plot to focusing on message. Latife Tekin puts writers into two groups: writers who write for the people and writers who write to exceed the experience of being human. In her own words, she writes opposed to literature and arts. She explains that she has created this differentiation due to the “class consciousness” of
literature and she insists on the necessaries of arguing about the existence and aims of these fields. Even though the problematization of class consciousness is highly meaningful for the writer’s position on literature, the fact that the readers of the “texts that do not tell stories” come from a limited intellectual social group, endangers the writer’s approach. Since her mother is Kurdish and spoke Kurdish and Arabic, they used languages other than Turkish in the household, enriching the language of Tekin’s works. However, this environment also created a distance between Tekin and language and accordingly literature.
For her language is not only a field where literature creates itself, but also an existentialist problem. It can be said that her unique position with language made her narrative language closer to poetry than to prose. Womanhood, a subject that she has focused on since her first novel, became the main subject in her novel Muniar, a work which she says that she was written for women. In this novel, she presents her different personal and social ideas about the issue. Her The Notebook of Dreams and Awakenings in which she combines critical thought with a poetic language and style, was rejected by the publishing house of her previous works due to its content. After being rejected by another publishing house, she sent the book to a third publisher which published the book without any censures. Latife Tekin, who has always written “in opposition,” has attended many conferences and symposiums. Facing censorship and oppression, she bravely declared her thoughts not only about literature but also society and politics. She lives in Bodrum and organizes events for Gümüşlük Academy.
BOOKS IN TRANSLATION:
Berci Kristin Tales from the Garbage Hills (1996) – Çev. Saliha Paker & Ruth Christie
Dear Shameless Death (2001) – Çev. Saliha Paker & Mel Kenne
Swords of Ice (2007) - Çev. Saliha Paker & Mel Kenne
Berdji Kristine Contes De La Montagne D’ordures (1995)
Chère Défunte (1997)
Epées de Glace (1999) – Çev. Alfred Depeyrat
Der Honigberg (1993) - Çev. Herald Schüler