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20 December 1915
|Died||6 July 1995 (aged 79)|
|Occupation||Writer and humorist|
|Spouse(s)||Vedia Nesin (m. 1939–48)|
Meral Çelen (m. 1956–67)
Aziz Nesin (pronounced [ˈaziz ˈne.sin ]; born Mehmet Nusret,¶ 20 December 1915 – 6 July 1995) was a Turkish writer, humorist and the author of more than 100 books. Born in a time when Turks did not have official surnames, he had to adopt one after the Surname Law of 1934 was passed. Although his family carried the epithet "Topalosmanoğlu", after an ancestor named "Topal Osman", he chose the surname "Nesin". In Turkish, Nesin? means, What are you?.
Generally going by the name "Aziz Nesin", the name "Aziz" was originally his father's nickname, used by Nesin for the pseudonym under which he started publishing. He wrote under more than fifty noms de plume, such as the pseudonym "Vedia Nesin", his first wife's name, which he used for love poems published in the magazine Yedigün.
He was born in 1915 on Heybeliada, one of the Princes' Islands of Istanbul, in the days of the Ottoman Empire. After serving as a career officer for several years, he became the editor of a series of satirical periodicals with a socialist slant. He was jailed several times and placed under surveillance by the National Security Service (MAH in Turkish) for his political views.
Nesin provided a strong indictment of the oppression and brutalization of the common man. He satirized bureaucracy and "exposed economic inequities in stories that effectively combine local color and universal truths". Aziz Nesin has been presented with numerous awards in Turkey, Italy, Bulgaria and the former Soviet Union. His works have been translated into over thirty languages. During latter parts of his life he was said to be the only Turkish author who made a living only out of his earnings from his books.
On 6 June 1956, he married a coworker from the Akbaba magazine, Meral Çelen.
In 1972, he founded the Nesin Foundation. The purpose of the Nesin Foundation is to take, each year, four poor and destitute children into the Foundation's home and provide every necessity - shelter, education and training, starting from elementary school - until they complete high school, a trade school, or until they acquire a vocation. Aziz Nesin donated to the Nesin Foundation his copyrights in their entirety for all his works in Turkey or other countries, including all of his published books, all plays to be staged, all copyrights for films, and all his works performed or used in radio or television.
Aziz Nesin was a political activist. In the aftermath of the 1980 military coup led by Kenan Evren, Turkish intelligentsia faced heavy oppression. Aziz Nesin led a number of intellectuals to rebel against the military government, by issuing the Petition of Intellectuals (Turkish: Aydınlar Dilekçesi), notable signatories of which included Yalçın Küçük, Korkut Boratav, Atıf Yılmaz and Murat Belge. He was the two-time President of Türkiye Yazarlar Sendikası (Turkish Writers' Union) once from 1975 to 1980, and subsequently from 1987 to 1989.
He was also a critic on Islam. In the early 1990s, he began a translation of Salman Rushdie's controversial novel, The Satanic Verses. This provoked outrage from Islamic organizations, who were gaining popularity throughout Turkey, who then tried to hunt him down. On July 2, 1993 while attending a mostly Alevi cultural festival in the central Anatolian city of Sivas, a mob organized by Islamists gathered around the Madimak Hotel, where the festival attendants were accommodated. After hours of siege, the intruders set the hotel on fire. After flames engulfed several lower floors of the hotel, firetrucks managed to get close, and Aziz Nesin and many guests of the hotel escaped. However, 37 people were killed. This event, also known as the Sivas massacre, was perceived as censorship, and human rights in Turkey were allegedly disrupted at that time. It also deepened the rift between fundamentalist Muslims and those that they regard as infidels.
He devoted his last years to combating religious fundamentalism. Aziz Nesin died on 6 July 1995 in Çeşme, İzmir, due to a heart attack. After his death, his body was buried at an unknown location in land belonging to the Nesin Foundation, without any ceremony, as requested in his will.
English language bibliography
Several of Nesin's works have been published in English translation.
Istanbul Boy: The Autobiography of Aziz Nesin (Turkish title: Böyle Gelmiş Böyle Gitmez) is a multi-volume autobiography by Turkish writer Aziz Nesin published by University of Texas Press and Southmoor Studios, in English language translation by Joseph S. Jacobson.
- Istanbul Boy: The Autobiography of Aziz Nesin, Part I. Austin: University of Texas Press. 1977. ISBN 0-292-73809-9.
- Istanbul Boy: The Autobiography of Aziz Nesin, Part II. Austin: University of Texas Press. 1979. ISBN 0-292-73820-X.
- Istanbul Boy: The Autobiography of Aziz Nesin, Part III. Austin: University of Texas Press. 1990. ISBN 0-292-73864-1.
- Istanbul Boy: The Autobiography of Aziz Nesin, Part IV. Utah: Southmoor Studios. 2000. ISBN 978-0-9673703-5-4.
Turkish Stories from Four Decades
- Turkish Stories from Four Decades. trans. Louis Mitler. Washington D.C.: Three Continents Press. 1991. ISBN 978-0-89410-687-3.CS1 maint: others (link)
Dog Tails is a long story collection by Turkish writer Aziz Nesin republished in 2000 by Southmoor Studios, in Spanish language translation by Joseph S. Jacobson.
- Dog Tails. trans. Joseph S. Jacobson. Utah: Southmoor Studios. 2000. ISBN 978-0-9673703-4-7.CS1 maint: others (link)
Memoirs Of An Exile
Memoirs Of An Exile (Turkish title: Bir Sürgünün Hatıraları) is an autobiographical memoir by Turkish writer Aziz Nesin about his exile to Bursa, republished in 2001 by Southmoor Studios, in English language translation by Joseph S. Jacobson.
- Memoirs Of An Exile. trans. Joseph S. Jacobson. Utah: Southmoor Studios. 2001. ISBN 978-0-9673703-8-5.CS1 maint: others (link)
Hayri the Barber Surnâmé
Hayri the Barber Surnâmé (Turkish title: Surnâme) is a novel by Turkish writer Aziz Nesin republished in 2001 by Southmoor Studios, in English language translation by Joseph S. Jacobson.
- Hayri the Barber Surnâmé. trans. Joseph S. Jacobson. Utah: Southmoor Studios. 2001. ISBN 978-0-9673703-9-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
Out of the Way! Socialism's Coming!
Out of the Way! Socialism's Coming! (Turkish title: Sosyalizm Geliyor Savulun!) is a 2001 selection of three stories from a short story collection by Turkish writer Aziz Nesin, published by Milet Books, in a dual of the original Turkish and an English language translation by Damian Croft, as part of its series of Turkish-English Short Story Collections.
The publisher states that, "In these hilarious and entertaining stories, the legendary Aziz Nesin turns his uniquely incisive, satirical wit on shifting ideologies, bureaucracy and the question of who’s really (in)sane: the ones locked up or the ones outside."
A review in Write Away states that, "These are thought provoking parables of our time," that, "take the mickey out of bureaucracy and political ideology and hypocrisy," and "should leave readers laughing and thinking."
The volume consists of the stories;
- Out of the Way! Socialism's Coming!
- The Inspector's Coming
- The Lunatics Break Loose
For an English-only edition of the full collection, see below under Socialism Is Coming: Stand Aside.
- Out of the Way! Socialism's Coming!. trans. Damian Croft. London: Milet Books. 2001. ISBN 978-1-84059-297-9.CS1 maint: others (link)
The Dance of the Eagle and the Fish
The Dance of the Eagle and the Fish is a children's book adapted by English writer Alison Boyle from the short story of the same name by Turkish writer Aziz Nesin and published in 2001 by Milet Books, in English language translation by Ruth Christie.
- The Dance of the Eagle and the Fish. trans. Ruth Christie. London: Milet Books. 2001. ISBN 978-1-84059-316-7.CS1 maint: others (link)
Socialism Is Coming: Stand Aside
Socialism Is Coming: Stand Aside (Turkish title: Sosyalizm Geliyor Savulun!) is a short story collection by Turkish writer Aziz Nesin republished in 2002 by Southmoor Studios, in English language translation by Joseph S. Jacobson.
- Socialism Is Coming: Stand Aside. trans. Joseph S. Jacobson. Utah: Southmoor Studios. 2002. ISBN 978-0-9711846-2-6.CS1 maint: others (link)
The Tales of Nasrettin Hoca
The Tales of Nasrettin Hoca (Turkish title: Nasrettin Hoca Hikayeleri) is a short story collection by Turkish writer Aziz Nesin based on the folk tales of Nasrettin Hoca republished in 2002 by Dost Yayınları, in English language translation by Talât Sait Halman.
- The Tales of Nasrettin Hoca. trans. Talât Sait Halman. Dost Yayınları. 2002. ISBN 978-975-95481-0-0.CS1 maint: others (link)
Laugh or Lament
Laugh or Lament: Selected Short Stories is a 2002 short story collection by Turkish writer Aziz Nesin published by Turkish Ministry of Culture, in English language translation by Masud Akhtar Shaikh, with an introduction by the translator.
The volume consists of the stories;
- Laugh or Lament: Selected Short Stories. trans. Masud Akhtar Shaikh. Ankara: Turkish Ministry of Culture. 2002.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Laugh or Lament: Selected Short Stories. trans. Masud Akhtar Shaikh. Istanbul: Nesin Books. 2006. ISBN 978-975-9038-83-0.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Istanbul Boy: The Autobiography of Aziz Nesin, Part I at University of Texas.
- A Patriotic Duty at Boğaziçi University.
^¶ According to Nesin's autobiography Memoirs of an Exile: "They named me Nusret. In Turkish, this Arabic word means 'God's Help.' It was a name entirely fitting to us because my family, destitute of any other hope, placed all their hope in God."
- Zehra Onat (June 20, 2015). "Aziz Nesin: a man larger than life remembered in İstanbul". Today's Zaman. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
- Asku, Fatma (2005-08-28). "Milli İstihbarat'ın Aziz Nesin'lik işleri". Hürriyet (in Turkish). Retrieved 2008-10-16.
- "ABD taşeronu Aziz Nesin'e saldırdı" (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
- "Aydınlar Dilekçesi Tam Metni". bianet.org (in Turkish). Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- "Türkiye Yazarlar Sendikası". Türkiye Yazarlar Sendikası. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
- Pace, Eric (1995-07-07). "Aziz Nesin of Turkey Dies at 80; Writer Escaped Militants' Arson". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
- "40 Killed in a Turkish Hotel Set Afire by Muslim Militants". The New York Times. 1993-07-03. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
- Çaylı, Eral. "Architectural Memorialization at Turkey's Witness Sites: The Case of the Madimak Hotel" (PDF). p. 14. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
- "Turkish satire writer Aziz Nesin dies". UPI. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
- "Out of Print Books: N". University of Texas Press. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- Halman, Talat S. (26 June 2006). Istanbul Boy. The Turkish Muse. ISBN 9780815630685. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- "Out of the Way! Socialism's Coming!". Milet Books. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- Memoirs Of An Exile, Lightmillennium.org
- Nesin, Aziz. Istanbul Boy – The autobiography of Aziz Nesin, translated by Joseph S. Jacobson
- Turkishculture.org – Aziz Nesin (1916-1995)[unreliable source?]
- Allword, Edward. The Tatars of Crimea: Return to the Homeland : Studies and Documents. North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8223-1994-2.
- Nesin Foundation (in Turkish)
- "About Aziz Nesin". Archived from the original on 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2010-12-07.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) &"The Nesin Foundation". Archived from the original on 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2015-11-24.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) (in English)
- Poems of Aziz Nesin Poetry of Aziz Nesin, translated into English
- Online edition of Istanbul Boy, Part I
- Aziz Nesin: A Black-comedy Defiant Turkish Satirist
- Aziz Nesin on IMDb