Kulin, Ay?e (1941–)

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Kulin, Ayșe

Turkish author Ayșe Kulin is a popular writer of bestseller biographies. Her success with biographical novels comes from the eager request of Turkish society for real life stories (Adı: Aylin, Bir Tatlı Huzur, Füreya). In addition to her biographical novels, she is an affluent storywriter. In 1996 her story titled "Foto Sabah Resimleri" (Pictures of Photo Sabah) received the Haldun Taner Story Award. In that same year, the book that took its name from this story received the Sait Faik Story Award. Geniș Zamanlar (Easy Times), another book by Kulin, received an award from the İstanbul University Communication Faculty. In addition to her biographical novels and stories, her fiction works include: Sevdalinka (Love), Köprü (The Bridge), Nefes Nefese, Gece Sesleri (The Voices of Night), Bir Gün (On Day), and Karde-lenler (Snowdrops), all of which are said to include an attractive peculiarity, adding both structure and dimension to these kinds of texts. Apart from these works, she has a book of poetic essays titled İ çimde Bir Kİzİl Gül Gibi (Like a Red Rose inside Me), as well as Babama (To My Father), a book of poetry.


Kulin was born in Turkey in 1941. Her father, Muhittin Kulin, was one of the first civil engineers in Turkey who founded the State Water Institution (Devlet Su ıșleri); he was soon appointed first director of this institution. Her mother, Sitare Hanim, is the granddaughter of one of the Ottoman economy ministers, Reșat Bey. Ethnically, Kulin is not Turkish, as her father was Bosnian and her mother Circassian.

Kulin grew up in Ankara, but spent summers in Istanbul with her mother's family. As a result of this, she is familiar with both life in Ankara and the traditional codes of the Ottoman Empire, as she spent an abundance of time at her grandfather's mansion there. Her stories are clearly influenced by her two-sided childhood experiences.

Kulin attended primary school in Ankara, high school in Istanbul, and then went on to the Arnavutköy American College for Girls. She had many friends there, including writer ıpek Ongun, ıKSV (Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts) festival director Dikmen Görün, and writer Nazli Eray, all of whom helped shape her intellectual medium during her high school years. Politics played an important role in Kulin's family. As a result, she was a social democrat activist during the first military coup in Turkey, 27 May 1960.


Kulin was influenced by the social statutes of her family and by the governmental ideology of Turkish Republic, Kemalism. For instance, her book Füreya tells the story of Füreya Korel, one of the members of the famous Șakir Pasha family, and the first idealist Turkish ceramic artist. Füreya Korel overcomes tuberculosis by making ceramics, eventually becoming a famous artist in the field. She marries Kiliç Ali, an aide de camp for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. As a result of this marriage, she spends an important part of her life in Mustafa Kemal's society. The main motif of this biographical novel is Kemal telling Füreya about becoming an idealist woman for Young Turkey.

In addition to Kulin's biographical novel, her other stories also contain the same political influences. In Güneșe Dön Yüzünü (Turn Your Face to the Sun), the stories portray both Kemalist ideology and the remaining traces of Ottoman traditional family life during the long period of Turkish Republic between 1940 and 1980. The ideological and cultural impressions become more visible in the story within the book. It tells the tale of little Emine, whose father is an engineer of young Turkey and whose mother's grandfather is a pasha in the Ottoman Empire. Little Emine loves Atatürk, who founded the Turkish Republic, and tells her mother's grandfather about Atatürk and his works in the summer when she comes to Istanbul for holiday. Her grandfather does not like the stories, however, because he thinks Atatürk has taken his life and his culture by founding a new state. At first, Emine is disappointed, then she dreams of Ankara with her little home, of her school friends, of her father. "Turn your face to the sun" indicates that the new generation should turn their faces to the Ankara where the sun of new Turkey rises, and where all memories and thoughts about the Ottoman Empire should be forgotten.

The influences in Kulin's writings also include Kemalist ideology and the family's reflection of the Ottoman Empire. Her novel Sevdalinka (Love) gives the details of the 1990s war in Bosnia. Sevdalinka is a remarkable novel, revealing the genocide in a Muslim country that was once part of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey. More than that, however, Kulin felt that writing the novel was a duty, given that her father is a Bosnian.


Name: Ayșe Kulin

Birth: 1941, Turkey

Family: Divorced; four sons

Nationality: Turkish

Education: Arnavutköy American College for Girls


  • 1980s: Works as an editor, reporter in newspapers and magazines; stage producer, art director, and scenarist for television, advertisements, and cinema films
  • 1986: "Gülizar" from Güneșe Dön Yüzünü (Turn Your Face to the Sun) adapted for the cinema with the title Kırık Bebek (Broken Doll), receives the Ministry of Culture Award; receives the Best Art Director Award from the Association of Theater Writers for the television series Ayașlı ve Kiracılari (Ayașlı and His Tenants)


For being a writer, first, capability is required. It is not enough to be hardworking and well informed. If you don't have talent as a writer, your books won't be read. But ability should be mixed with information, discipline, etiquette, and life experience. Otherwise, you will be exhausted easily.


Kulin's efforts have made the biographical novel popular in Turkey. Besides this, in her other novels, she selects themes from real life, including aspects of both authenticity and fiction. Although the ideological details are visible in each of her novels, she allows both reality and fiction to coexist. Her approach is seen in the char-acteristics of the narrator and the protagonist. While the protagonist's divergent ideas, based on humanism and ethnic differences, are seen in texts such as Bridge, the narrator speaks as the representative for governmental ideology (Kemalism). Kulin consistently succeeds in representing the two contrasting sides of thought in only one structure.

Another book, Kardelenler (Snowdrops), recounts the story of girls who cannot go to primary school in the east of Turkey. For this project, Kulin actually went to the area she wrote about and learned the personal stories of each of the young girls. These genuine stories are collected without girls' names in the book.


Kulin is perceived as a popular author.


Kulin will be remembered in Turkish popular literature as an author whose success caused people to read biographical novels in Turkey.


Güneș, Aslı. "The Bridge Stretch from the Divergent Bureaucrats' Biography to the Forbearing Republic Bureaucrats' Novel." Virgül, 83.

"Her Name: Ayșe." Available from http://www.aksiyon.com.tr/detay.php?id=11326.

"I Have No Time for Sophistry." (5 October 2005). Available from http://www.e-kolay.net/kadın/.

                                                Seher Özkök