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Kurdish publisher in Sweden to open Istanbul branch

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 6/6/2011 12:00:00 AM | VERCİHAN ZİFLİOĞLU

Nudem, a Kurdish publisher that has been operating in Stockholm for the past 20 years, is preparing to open its first branch in Istanbul. Defending freedom of thought and expression is among the publishers’ top priorities, according to Abidin Parıltı, the publishing coordinator, who notes how the importance of Kurdish literature has grown in recent years

A long-established Kurdish publishing house in Stockholm will open its first branch in Istanbul as it seeks to reach sections of the Turkish public that are increasingly eager to read in Kurdish.

“It was impossible to speak of Kurdish books back in [the 1990s] when Kurdish was banned in Turkey, but publishing houses have made great strides in recent years regarding Kurdish publications,” Abidin Parıltı, the publishing coordinator of Nudem Publishing House, recently told the Hürriyet Daily News.

A significant audience for Kurdish books has appeared thanks to efforts made by publishing houses like Nudem, Parıltı said.

The contact made between many writers and their readership at the yearly Diyarbakır Book Fair and the fact Kurdish publishers could now open up stands there and exhibit their books have been extremely important in creating a significant following for books in Kurdish, Parıltı said.

Defending freedom of thought and expression is among the publisher’s top priorities, said Parıltı, whose publishing house began in the early 1990s in the Swedish capital.

Nudem, whose name literally translates as “New Age,” always sought to publish good pieces of work regardless of their ideological leanings, Parıltı said, adding they had published more than 80 works to date and were going to take the necessary precautions in the event that they faced legal action for any of their published material.

“It is a problem for all publishing houses in Turkey that democracy is not fully established in [the country] and that some books incur the wrath of prosecutors,” Parıltı said. “It is unthinkable for us to remain silent in the face of laws that impede or limit the freedom of thought and speech.”

[HH] Overcoming problems

Aside from possible problems with the authorities, Parıltı also said the Kurdish publishing industry needed to adapt to the present dictates of the market. In this, Kurdish should adapt more to the language of marketing, problems of distribution need to be solved and publishers, need to act more professionally, he said.

Moreover, the publishing in Kurdish is also at a disadvantage because the language was rarely publicly visible, Parıltı said.

“The Kurdish language was always forced to retreat into obscurity as it was not a language of education and had no place in the public sphere, and it was regarded with distaste. Much effort was spent trying to raise the profile of the Kurdish language. Understanding a people is only possible through understanding and acquainting oneself with their literature. Kurdish works are now being translated into Turkish as well, and some literary supplements have also opened up their pages to promoting Kurdish books, arousing curiosity and interest among readers,” Parıltı said.  

“Kurdish literature predominantly features war’s cruelty, [people who have lost their sense of identity], violence against women, love, tradition, exile, death and defeat as their themes,” Parıltı said, adding that the representatives of Kurdish literature were scattered abroad in the diaspora but were focused on depicting the problems of the Kurds.

Although they were going to be publishing books in Kurdish, some important works will also be translated into Turkish to reach a broader audience, he added.

“Fırat Cewheri is a writer with a certain fan base who has been writing in Kurdish for many years and has labored for the Kurdish language. ‘Lehi’ [Flood] is Cewheri’s third novel; his first two novels have already been translated into Turkish,” Parıltı said, noting that the author’s first book will be published by Nudem Publishing House in Turkey. Cewheri’s third novel deals with a series of events taking place between the writer and two protagonists, Diana and Temo.  

“We believe more important works will be published in the coming years. In this respect, it is entirely conceivable that a Kurdish writer could push on for the Nobel Prize,” Parıltı said.

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