Turkish author Aslı Erdoğan wins 'courageous writer at risk' award

Turkish writer Aslı Erdoğan has won the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation’s 2019 Disturbing the Peace Award to a Courageous Writer at Risk.

The foundation, which was set up in honour of the late Czech dissident turned statesman, describes the award as for “writers who share President Vaclav Havel’s passionate commitment to human rights and have suffered unjust persecution for their beliefs”.

Aslı Erdoğan was arrested in 2016, during a state of emergency triggered by a coup attempt, for her work with pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem.

She was released four months later, and now lives in Germany.

Erdoğan’s collection “The Stone Building and Other Places” describes her prison ordeal, which included solitary confinement.

The jury for the prize said Erdoğan’s stories “captures both the resilience and the fragility of the human condition as they become visible through the ghostly memories of a political prisoner, the utter loneliness of a refugee, and the sense of loss experienced by those who find themselves under conditions of involuntary diaspora, a humiliating combination of statelessness and rightlessness”.

"Looking from the outside, one realizes that the power of the writing (and YES, of the author herself) is the power of entirely new critical actors represented by women today — women who organize, speak, mobilize and act for the rights of ALL. Asli’s is an extraordinary voice, one which is carefully listened to and discussed by the younger generation of women and men of Turkey, whether at home or in exile."

Erdoğan has been invited to accept the award from Haval’s widow, Dagmar Havlova, during a Gala evening at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City in September.