Born in 1940, Oya Baydar graduated from Notre Dame de Sion High School for girls. The youth novel which she wrote in her senior year was published in the Hurriyet newspaper, introducing her as “the Françoise Sagan of Turkey”.
Her first book, God Forgot His Children, was published in 1961 and the second one titled The Age of War, the Age of Hope was published in 1964.
She studied sociology in Istanbul University between 1960 and 1964, and after graduation she started working as an assistant lecturer in the same department. At the same time she began writing her doctorate thesis, titled “The Emergence of the Working Class in Turkey”. She quit writing literature in the 1960s, when the socialist ideology and organizing began in Turkey, and focused on researching on the socio-political structures. She got actively involved in the socialist movement.
She was arrested and dismissed from her work at the university for being a member of the Turkish Teachers’ Trade Union and the Turkish Labour Party. After her release she worked as a columnist in the Yeni Ortam (New Environment) and the Politika (Politics) newspapers until 1980. She had to leave Turkey after the coup d’etat on September 12, 1980, and continued living in exile in Frankfurt, Germany until 1992. During her years of exile, she lived in various European cities and Moscow. She witnessed the collapse of the socialist system and the Berlin wall, for which she commented, “This wall fell on all of us”.
In the early ‘90s, she began writing short stories to overcome the psychological depression she was going through due to the collapse of the socialist practice. She frequently expressed her mood with a quote from the famous story writer, Sait Faik: “If I hadn’t written, I’d have gone insane”.
Her book Farewell Alyosha, which compiled her stories of exile and the collapse of the socialist system, was published in Turkey in 1991 and was awarded with the Sait Faik Story Prize. She won the Yunus Nadi Novel Prize in 1993 with her novel Cat Letters. Returning Nowhere was published in 1998. Hot Ashes Remain, published in 2000, won the Orhan Kemal Novel Prize. She received her next award, the Cevdet Kudret Literature Prize, with The Gate of the Judas Tree, which was publihed in 2004. Her latest novel, The Lost Word, was published in 2008 and the same year it was translated to German.
Oya Baydar currently lives in Turkey; spending her time both in Istanbul and the Marmara Island.
God Has Forgotten Children (Allah Çocukları Unuttu), 1961, novel; The Age of War, The Age of Hope (Savaş Çağı, Umut Çağı), 1963, novel; Farewell Alyosha (Elveda Alyoşa), 1991, stories, Sait Faik Story Award; Cat Letters (Kedi Mektupları), 1993, novel, Yunus Nadi Novel Award; Returning Nowhere (Hiçbiryer’e Dönüş), 1998, novel, Premio per la Cultura Mediterranea Award in Italy; Hot Ashes Remain (Sıcak Külleri Kaldı), 2000, novel, Orhan Kemal Novel Award; The Gate of Judas Tree (Erguven Kapısı), 2004, novel; The General of Garbage (Çöplüğün Generali), 2009, novel; Lost Word (Kayıp Söz), 2007, novel; Small, Orphaned Things (Yetim Kalacak Küçük Şeyler), 2014, memoir
Foreign Editions of Oya Baydar’s Works
Anthologies Which Include Oya Baydar’s Works: