Turkish Literature in Translation: Amy Marie Spangler Discusses "A Strange Woman" by Leyla Erbil

29 Sep 2022


Announced by the University of Pittsburgh:

Turkish Literature in Translation Reading Group at the University of Texas at Austin is starting its sixth term with a recently translated novel: A Strange Woman (Tuhaf Bir Kadın. Deep Vellum Press; 2022) by Leyla Erbil. This is the first novel by a Turkish female writer to ever be nominated for the Nobel. It narrates the story of Nermin, a young woman and aspiring poet growing up in Istanbul. Nermin frequents coffeehouses and underground readings, determined to immerse herself in the creative, anarchist youth culture of Turkey’s capital; however, she is regularly thwarted by her complicated relationship to her parents, members of the old guard who are wary of Nermin’s turn toward secularism. In four parts, A Strange Woman narrates the past and present of a Turkish family through the viewpoints of the main characters involved. This rebellious, avant-garde novel tackles sexuality, the unconscious, and psychoanalysis, all through the lens of modernizing 20th-century Turkey. Deep Vellum brings this long-awaited translation of the debut novel by a trailblazing feminist voice to US readers.

About the author: One of the most influential Turkish writers of the twentieth century, Leyla Erbil was an innovative literary stylist who tackled issues at the heart of what it means to be human, in mind and body. Erbil ventured where few writers dared to tread, turning her lens to the tides of social norms and the shaping of identities, focusing intently on emotional conflict, and plumbing the depths of history and psyche. In 2002 and 2004 Erbil was nominated as candidate for the Nobel Literature Prize by Turkey PEN. She died in Istanbul in 2013.

About the translator: Amy Marie Spangler (b. 1978, Circleville, Ohio, USA) is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College, with B.A. degrees in Near Eastern and Classical Archaeology and German Language and Literature. She is co-found of AnatoliaLit Agency, where she represents authors (mostly) from Turkey. A translator, primarily from Turkish into English, from 2007 until 2015 she headed the Fiction Translation Group of the Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature (http://tecca.boun.edu.tr), and she has taught in the Translation Studies Departments of Boğaziçi University and and Okan University in Istanbul. Her published book translations include The City in Crimson Cloak by Asli Erdogan (Soft Skull, 2007), Noontime in Yenişehir by Sevgi Soysal (Milet, 2014), and Dawn by Selahattin Demirtaş (co-translated with Kate Ferguson, Hogarth, 2019). Co-editor and co-translator of Istanbul Noir (Akashic Books, 2008), Spangler’s English translations of Turkish short stories have been published in various anthologies and magazines.

Event Date: 
Thursday, September 29, 2022 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Sponsored By: 
Program in Comparative Literature, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Department of Middle Eastern Studies