Emine Sevgi Özdamar

Born 10 August 1946, Malatya, Turkey

Emine Sevgi Özdamar spent her childhood traveling various cities in Turkey. Owing to the conditions of the time, her engineer father’s business did not go well. Her family had to move from Anatolia to Istanbul, Bursa and lastly to Ankara.

She started to be interested in theater when she was 12. She decided to be an actress, after her first theater experience on the stage with Molière’s The Bourgeois Gentlemen in Bursa City Theater. When she was 19, following her brother’s departure for Switzerland to have an education, she went to Berlin to be closer to her brother’s academic level and to satisfy her passion for theater, in the years when Germany started to accept Turkish workers.

Özdamar lived in Berlin as a factory worker from 1965 to 1967. Pursuing a professional acting career upon her return to Istanbul in the late 1960s, she performed key roles in Turkish staging of German plays by Bertolt Brecht and Peter Weiss, including the pivotal role of Charlotte Corday in the revolutionary Marat-Sade play.

Özdamar assisted with theatrical productions by some of the most sought after directors in both the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, including Benno Besson, Matthias Langhoff, Claus Peymann, Franz Xaver Kroetz, and Einar Schleef. Various acting roles in theater and film have followed as well over the decades, and Özdamar has written her own multifaceted theater pieces.

She is one of the most famous German Turkish writers and won the Ingeborg Bachmann price in 1991 for her first novel Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei (Life Is A Caravansarai), a novel memorizing a childhood in Turkey in the 1950s. Its sequel Die Brücke über dem Goldenen Horn (The Bridge Of The Golden Horn), tells the story of a 17 year old girl's adventures in Berlin, İstanbul and Paris around the time of the 1968 movement.

In 1999, she received Adalbert von Chamisso Prize. In 2000, her third play, Noahi and her storybook, Der Hof im Spiegel (The Yard in the Mirror) were published. The third book of the trilogy, published in 2003, Seltsame Sterne starren zur Erde (Strange Stars Stare at the Earth), tells the story of a divided East and West Berlin through the eyes of a young woman who has left her country, family and ex-husband and come to Berlin in order to work in the theater in 1970s.

A little known, beautifully crafted fairy tale of Grimm-like proportions reflects artfully on the state of German literary criticism and publishing in 2007 under the title Das Mädchen vom halb verbrannten Wald (The Girl from the Half-Burned Forest).

As a woman writer, Özdamar uses her language as a war arena to weaken the patriarchal discourse. By translating Turkish phrases to German directly, she aims to deform the usual meanings of the words. As she makes the voices that are accepted as insignificant, heard, her own language also loses its nationality and it becomes a nomad or a wanderer just like herself.

Her works can be considered feminist because her narrative language belongs to the ones hierarchically placed at the bottom: Little girls, crazy women, Armenian and Greek women, worker women and old women. Her search for an alternative identity and language as opposed to “woman identity” which is given by the cultural, ethnic or sexist discourses stands out in her novels. Therefore, her novels stand at the crossing roads of minority literature and “feminine literature”.

In our library, you find following books by Emine Sevgi Özdamar and books on her life and works:

Özdamar, Emine Sevgi: The bridge of the golden horn. Serpent's Tail, 2007. 258 S. Original: Die Brücke vom Goldenen Horn (engl.)
ISBN: 9781852429324
Özdamar, Emine Sevgi: Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei. Delta Music, 2006. 5 CDs (Audiobook)
ISBN: 9783865382238
Özdamar, Emine Sevgi: Life is a caravanserai, has two doors, I came in one, I went out the other. Middlesex Univ.-Press, 2000. 296 S.
Original: Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei, hat zwei Türen, aus einer kam ich rein, aus der anderen ging ich raus (engl.)
ISBN: 189825334X
Özdamar, Emine Sevgi: Sonne auf halbem Weg. Die Istanbul-Berlin-Trilogie. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2006. 1055 S.
ISBN: 9783462037524
Bird, Stephanie: Women writers and national identity. Bachmann, Duden, Özdamar. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2003. X, 246 S.
ISBN: 0521824060
In our eLibrary you find following eBooks by Emine Sevgi Özdamar and eBook on her works:

Özdamar, Emine Sevgi: Mutterzunge. Erzählungen. Rotbuch-Verlag, 2013
ISBN: 9783867895484
Emine Sevgi Özdamar. Text + Kritik; 2011-2016
ISBN: 9783869165271