Wednesday, 19 September 2018 | News today: 19

Ayfer Tunc, Turkish writer: I don’t write to be on a best-selling list

If you write about pop-culture, or care to be in a best-selling list and also use advertising and PR in a professional way and you are lucky, yes, you will live as an author definitely. I write to be read by qualified readers not being on a best-selling list, Ayfer Tunc, a Turkish writer who is a guest at the 6th International Literature Festival “PRO-ZA Balkan, which runs through May 27-29 in Skopje, said in an interview with Republika.

Ayfer Tunc (born 1964 in Adapazarı), is a contemporary Turkish writer. She graduated from the Istanbul University Faculty of Political Sciences. During her university years, she wrote many articles for various literature, culture and art magazines. In 1989, she participated in the Yunus Nadi Short Story Competition organized by the daily Cumhuriyet newspaper. Her short story titled Saklı (Hidden) received the first prize. Between 1999-2004, she worked as the chief editor of Yapı Kredi Publishing House. Her book titled Maniniz Yoksa Annemler Size Gelecek-70’li Yıllarda Hayatımız (My Parents Will Visit You If You Aren’t Occupied – Our Life in the ’70s) was published in 2001 was met with great enthusiasm. In 2003, the same book won the International Balkanika Award, co-organized by seven Balkan countries, and qualified for being translated into six Balkan languages. In addition, the book was published in Arabic in Syria and Lebanon. Ayfer Tunç also wrote a script titled Havada Bulut (Cloud in the Sky), based on short stories by Sait Faik Abasıyanık, and it was filmed and broadcast on TRT in 2003.

We talked about topics that interest her, about the status of Turkish writers, as well as female writers in her country, and whether one can make a living out of writing today in Turkey.

Mrs. Tunc is this your first time in Macedonia? Are you familiar with Macedonian writers or poets? Did you have any foreknowledge of Macedonian literature?

Yes, this is my first time in Macedonia. I always wanted to come but I’ve never had a chance to be there before. Unfortunately, I have to say that I don’t have much knowledge about Macedonian literature. I’ve never had a chance to read Macedonian poets except for a few poems that I’d seen in magazines before. After a little research, I find that not so many Macedonian poems have been translated into Turkish. I really hope that we read more of the Macedonian literature in Turkish.

 2. In 2003, you received the Balkanika Literary Prize for the novel “My Parents Will Visit You If You Aren’t Occupied”. This prize is highly appreciated in our country. What can you tell us about this novel?

I am very pleased to receive a valuable prize for the Balkan countries. This book tells the story of daily life in Turkey and neighboring countries in the 70s. A lot of things which we’ve been through have disappeared in fifty years. How were we living before television, international markets, internet, mobile phone entered in our life? This book tells the times when this technology is not. It was a book that made to happy childhood land for the Turkish reader. I think so for the Balkan readers.

3. You are writing short stories, novels, television scripts. You have been making a living as a writer for more than 10 years. What topics interest you the most? Are you closer to the present or the past?

(My first book was published in 1989 so I’ve been writing for 29 years.) I am interested in subjects more than matters; a subject is just a tool; in that way, we are able to reveal our opinions. However, the matter is the core of the text and it is problematical that pushes an author to writing and questioning. For me, the matter is about human conditions. The main issues that I always point out that are misery, morality, depreciation, power and rulership, non-existence, family matters and the evilness which is inside of the man. These are the timeless matters. They have existed at the beginning of man’s history and will always continue to exist in the future. If you write or issue any conditions about human then you have to think about time as a whole. Because every matter definite roots which come from past, and sides which effect moment and change future.

4. Can one make a living out of writing today in Turkey?

If you write about pop-culture, or care to be in a best-selling list and also use advertising and PR in a professional way and you are lucky, yes, you will live as an author definitely. But if your aim is a qualified literature and you do not want to give what the readers want, but want to create works, it is not possible. I must say that the writing is never a job, it is a matter of existence for me. I have never thought about writing as a source of living. I earn my living from other jobs and definitely write to be read by qualified readers not being on a best-selling list.

5. You studied Political Sciences but you work as a writer. What is the status of the writer today in Turkey? And what is the status of the female writers?

I’m very pleased to have studied Political Sciences. Thanks to university education, as an author, I have a great cultural base that includes politics history, economy, law studies and sociology. I can say that literature in Turkey is still a respected area. Moreover, Turkey still has a little but really powerful  ‘qualified readers’ despite its population. In my opinion, this situation shows that our writers still can influence the readers in Turkey and their words create an effect into people even if they are not majority. Nevertheless, we’re all in a new era now. A new era has come with digital age and it includes images more than words. It means that literature has a little area in the world and it does not affect the masses like in my childhood anymore. In Turkey, women authors are very qualifed in every aspects. However, we cannot see this in a totally positive way. Because of the writting masses lost its power of influence and reduced its moral and material proceed, the men on the world of  literature world don’t try to block the women anymore. Maybe this is why the women appear more and they be able to reach readers more easily now. For instance, men have a very dominant role in the cinema industry.

6. Your novel “The Night of the Green Fairy” is a novel about a woman who uses her beauty to avenge those who hurt her. Can it be read also as a novel that rebels against the feminine principle?

In our time, beauty which has become an industry and imposed on all women on the world is mostly a curse and a hardship that blocks women’s true existence. Beauty is not a separate thing from the woman issue. And the women issue is not different from the social decayedness. In Green Fairy Night, I wanted to show our social hypocrisy with a brave and angry woman.

7. Modern Turkish literature became known in recent years mostly because of Orhan Pamuk, but also Elif Şafak. What do these writers mean to you?

Because they are known abroad, they don’t mean anything more special to me. I’m a very good reader of Orhan Pamuk. I do not look at them differently than other writers. I really have hope about Turkish Literature nowadays, because some of our young authors have courage, power –mostly they are women- and they are truly hard-working.