Tezer Özlü

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Tezer Özlü

She also used the pen names Tezer Sümer, Tezer Özlü Kıral and Tuncay Gökmen. She was born on 10 September 1942 in Simav, Kütahya. Her mother, Nimet (Servet) Özlü was a teacher and her father, Sabih Özlü was a teacher and a lawyer. Writer Demir Özlü is her brother and translator, writer Sezer Duru is her sister.

She spent the first years of her childhood in small Anatolian towns, such as Simav, Ödemiş and Gerede. She moved to Istanbul with her parents when she was 11. She graduated from Taksim 29 Ekim Primary School. She studied at Austria Girls’ High School for a period. In 1960, she went to Austria, in 1962 to Germany and Holland and in 1963 to Germany and Paris. She met with her first husband, playwright, Güner Sümer in Paris.

She moved to Ankara in 1963 and worked for Turkey Sugar Factories. She got married with Güner Sümer in 1964. Upon her father's wishes she took distance education exams and graduated from Istanbul Boys' High School in 1965. Later on, she started working as a translator at the Goethe Institute. In these years, she translated the works of Ingmar Bergmann, Ossip Piatnizki, Heinrich Böll, Kafka, Enzensberger, Krüger and Rümkompf into Turkish.

She left Güner Sümer in 1968 and moved to Istanbul, where she worked as a translator at M.A.N and German United Medicine Factories. In 1968 she got married to the director Erden Kıral. She gave birth to her daughter Deniz in 1973. She started working as a program assistant at the Turkish-German Culture Centre. She organized Turkish literature days in Berlin in 1980.

In 1981 she went to Berlin with a DAAD writers in residence scholarship. She prepared radio programs on Turkish literature in Berlin. She travelled to important landmarks in the lives of Kafka, Pavese and Svevo. She prepared a book on her journey, titled Auf dem Spur eines Selbsmords, which she wrote originally in German. She received Marburg City Literature Award with her work in 1982. She was the first person whose native tongue was not German to receive this award.

In the same year, she met Canadian painter Hans Peter Marti in Germany. She moved back to Turkey in 1983 and continued working at the Turkish-German Culture Centre. In the same period she was divorced from Erden Kıral and decided to marry Marti. However, there were bureaucratic obstacles before the marriage. In 1984 she moved to Zurich and married Hans Peter Marti there. In 1985 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she died from this disease on 18 February 1986. She was interred at Aşiyan cemetery on 25 February 1986.

She published her first short story “Fortuna” in 1963 in the journal Yeni İnsan. Later on, she continued publishing her short stories in Yeni Ufuklar, Yeni Dergi and Milliyet Sanat. In 1978 her first short story collection, Eski Bahçe was published. The book received praises from many well-known critics of the time. The collection, which consisted of the short stories that were written from 1954 to 1971, gave the first clues of her autobiographical writing as well as the themes of death and otherness that can be seen in her later works.

In 1980 her autobiographical novel, Çocukluğun Soğuk Geceleri was published. In this book, while creating a bildungsroman example, she depicted various mechanisms of oppression such as school, family and marriage. In 1984, she translated and published her Marburg City Literature Award winner book as Yaşamın Ucuna Yolculuk.

After her death, her unpublished works along with her notes were published in the book, Kalanlar. In 1995 Leyla Erbil published the letters which were written by Tezer Özlü. In 1998, the script Zaman Dışı Yaşam which was written by the writer in German and translated by Sezer Duru was published. In 2010, Ferit Edgü published their correspondences in Her Şeyin Sonundayım.


  • Eski Bahçe/Öyküler (1978)
  • Çocukluğun Soğuk Geceleri (1980)
  • Yaşamın Ucuna Yolculuk (1984)
  • Kalanlar (Translated from the German original by Sezer Duru, 1990)
  • Leyla Erbil’e Mektuplar (1995)
  • Zaman Dışı Yaşam (1998)
  • Her Şeyin Sonundayım (2010)

Works she translated:

  • Ingmar Bergmann, Yaban Çilekleri (1965)
  • Ingmar Bergmann, Aynadaki Gibi: Sessizlik (1967)
  • O. Piatnitsky, Bir Bolşeviğin Anıları (under the pen name Tuncay Gökmen, 1978)
  • Heinich Boll, Fotoğrafta Kadın da Var (Özlü and Sezer Duru, 1971)


  • “Özlü, Tezer”, Tanzimattan Bugüne Edebiyatçılar Ansiklopedisi, Istanbul: YKY, 2010.
  • Sezer Duru, “Kız Kardeşim ve Ben”, Tezer Özlü’ye Armağan, Istanbul: YKY, 1997.
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