Oya Baydar

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Oya Baydar

Between the years 1964-1971 she used the last name of her first husband Muzaffer Sencer. She is the daughter of Behice and Ahmet Cevat Baydar. Her mother used to be a teacher and her father was a colonel. She was born in 1940 in Istanbul. She studied at Sariyer Primary School, Notre Dame de Sion High School and Istanbul University Department of Sociology respectively. She graduated in 1964. She worked as a research assistant in the same department till 1969.

In 1968, her doctorate thesis titled ‘The Emergence of Working Class in Turkey’ was rejected and she resigned from her job. The college students protested the event by capturing the university building. She became the member of Turkish Labor Party in 1966. In the years 1969-1970 she worked as an assistant in the department of sociology at Hacettepe University. She is one of the founders of the periodical called Theory and Practice for Socialist Party (1970-71).

After the coup d’état in 1971, she was arrested and kept in jail for a while. She worked as a columnist in the periodicals like Yeni Ortam and Politika (1972-79). In 1974, she was among the founders of journal called Ilke and participated in the establishment of Turkish Socialist Labor Party. Due to her articles, she was sued about thirty cases upon the articles 312, 142 and 159 in the criminal code. She had to flee Turkey after the coup d’état on September 12, 1980 and lived in exile in Germany until 1992. She presented social counseling service to the Turks in Germany (1984-92). In 1992 she returned Turkey. She worked as a redactor in Turkish Economic and Social History Foundation for the preparation of Istanbul Encyclopedia from past to present. Besides, she is the editor of Encyclopedia of Turkish Unionism. She worked as a coordinator in Bilanco ’98 series for the 75th year of Turkish Republic.

She currently lives in Istanbul. She is married to journalist Aydin Engin and has a child. Her first novel Allah Cocuklari Unuttu (The God Forget His Children) was serialized in the newspaper called Hurriyet in 1958. She published her articles in periodicals like Yeni Ortam, Politika and Yeni Dusun. Recently, she has focused on writing novels. Her novels have been translated into German, French and Bulgarian.

After a thirty-year break to literature, in her first story book Elveda Alyosa (Farewell Alyosa) and other novels such as Kedi Mektuplari (Letters of Cat) and Hicbiryer’e Donus (Return to Nowhere land), there are stories which are inspired from the memories and observations of her exile after the coup d’état happened in Turkey in 1980 and the collapse of socialist system symbolized with the collapse of Berlin Wall.

In her novel, Sicak Kulleri Kaldi (Warm Ashes Remain), the story begins in a morgue in Paris. With the memories of the heroine, the story extends over Ankara, Istanbul and Moscow. The events happened in Paris in a couple of days progress with the references to last forty-year period of Turkey and the world.

In Erguvan Kapisi (The Gate of Judas Tree), the paths of four different characters cross in search of Byzantium door unknown before in Istanbul.

In Kayip Soz (Lost Word), the narrator focuses on the sequence of events that progress around a writer who is not able to write anymore and his family. Besides, the relationship between people and violence is reflected in various aspects, not just in Turkey but the whole world.

Awards: - With Elveda Alyosa, Sait Faik Story Award in 1992 - With Kedi Mektuplari, Yunus Nadi Novel Award in 1993 - With Sicak Kulleri Kaldi, Orhan Kemal Novel Award in 2001 - With Erguvan Kapisi, Cevdet Kudret Literature Award in 2004.

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