№ 355/2011 from Nov 17, 2011
On November 30 the Turkish-French writer Nedim Gürsel will give a public lecture at Freie Universität, where he is spending one semester as a Samuel Fischer Visiting Professor. In the lecture, entitled "Exil au Pluriel," Gürsel will discuss his own works. A laudatory speech will be given by the writer Hans Christoph Buch. The event is public, and there is no admission charge.
Along with Orhan Pamuk and Yasar Kemal, Nedim Gürsel is one of the most important contemporary writers of Turkey. Born in 1951, by the late 1960s he was already publishing short stories and essays in various Turkish literary magazines. After the coup in 1971, he had to appear in court for one of his articles. After this experience he went to France in exile, where he currently teaches at Paris-Sorbonne University. He is also a research director of comparative literature at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris. Nedim Gürsel has close ties to Berlin. In 2003, he lived in the city as a guest of the Artists-in-Berlin Programme of the German Academic Exchange Service.
The history of Turkey and Europe and oriental narrative traditions are recurring themes in Gürsel's work. His first narrative volume, A Summer without End, a collection of short stories, was published in 1976. For this book, Gürsel received Turkey's highest literary prize, the Prize of the Turkish Language Academy. His first novel, The Conqueror, followed in 1997 and attracted considerable international attention. In this book Gürsel tells the story of a writer who is so fascinated by his hero, the historical figure of the cruel and yet finely intellectual Sultan Mehmet II, that the lines separating fiction and reality, past and present, begin to blur for him, and through his over-identification with this figure, he becomes a criminal. What at first seems to be a colorful historical novel about passion, life, and death, proves to be a critical confrontation with the Turkish military dictatorship in the early 1980s. In Turkey Gürsel was charged with treason for his realistic representation of Mehmet the Conqueror. His novel The Daughters of Allah also provoked controversy in Turkey.
Since 1998, the Samuel Fischer Visiting Professorship for Literature has been awarded by the Institute of Comparative Literature. It is funded by Freie Universität Berlin, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), S. Fischer publishers, and the Lecture Forum of the Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. So far, such well-known writers as the Nobel Prize winner Kenzaburô Ôe, Marlene Streeruwitz, Feridun Zaimoglu, Etgar Keret, Alberto Manguel, Yann Martel, Raoul Schrott, Richard Powers, Daniel Kehlmann, and Adam Thirlwell have held this position.