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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Perihan Mağden (born 1960) is a Turkish writer, known for her wit. She is currently a columnist for the newspaper Radikal.



Mağden was born in 1960 in Istanbul. After graduating from Robert College of Istanbul, she studied psychology at Boğaziçi University. By her own account, she was an unruly student—and her mother was proud of it.[1]

She has spent some time at Yaddo, the famous artists' community.[2] Mağden is a single mother, supported by her writing, who lives in Istanbul with her teenage daughter.[3]

In addition to writing editorial columns for Turkish newspapers, Mağden has also published fictional novels and a collection of poetry. Mağden's novel İki Genç Kızın Romanı (Two Girls), published in 2005 by Serpent's Tail, was praised for pushing "Turkish beyond its conventional literary patterns" and compared to J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye for the way she had captured adolescent anguish.[4]


Perihan Magden is one of the most inventive and outspoken writers of our time. The way she twists and turns the Turkish language, the delight she takes in the thrust and pull of popular culture, and her brilliant forays into subjects that everyone thinks about and then decides not to put into words, 'just in case'—these have earned her the love of her readers and the respect of her fellow writers.

Orhan Pamuk.[3]

Mağden is one of several journalists and writers charged for "threatening Turkey’s unity or the integrity of the state."[5]

After the assassination of Hrant Dink, she was offered security protection.[6]

In December 2007, she received a fourteen month suspended sentence for insulting Aytac Gul, then governor of Yuksekova.[7]


Conscientious objection lawsuit

Mağden was prosecuted by the Turkish government in relation to a December 2005 column in the weekly news magazine Yeni Aktuel.[8] In the column she strongly defended the actions of Mehmet Tarhan, a young Turkish man jailed for his refusal to perform mandatory military service. In this column, titled "Conscientious Objection is a Human Right," Mağden stated that the United Nations, of which Turkey is a member, acknowledges conscientious objection as a human right.[3]

In response to the column, the Turkish military accused her of attempting to turn the Turkish people against military service and filed a complaint against her.[9] A warrant was issued for her prosecution in April 2006 and her trial was in late July; the most severe sentence she could have faced if convicted under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code was three years' imprisonment. Under Turkish law, there is no provision for conscientious objection to mandatory military service.[10]

When asked about her situation, Mağden replied, "It's shocking that they are putting me on trial. I've no idea what will happen. The case could finish tomorrow or it could stretch on and on. The unnerving thing about the courts is they are so unpredictable, it's like a lottery. It's torture."[11]

Her prosecution was criticized by human rights groups around the world and comes several months after a Turkish court dropped a case against Turkish writer Elif Şafak, who had been charged with "insulting Turkishness" in her novel The Bastard of Istanbul.[10] The European Union closely monitored the lawsuit.[5] In a show of support for Mağden, newspapers in Turkey have republished the column that led to criminal charges against her.[12]

She was acquitted on July 27, 2006.[7] The court concluded that she exercised her right of freedom of speech.[13]

English language bibliography

Two of Mağden's novels have been published in English language translation.

The Messenger Boy Murders

The Messenger Boy Murders (Turkish title: Haberci Çocuk Cinayetleri) is a 1991 novel by Turkish writer and columnist Perihan Mağden republished in 2003 by Milet Books in English language translation by Richard Hamer.

The publisher describes the novel as, “a darkly comic, irreverent and hypnotic tale, an exploration of humanity's endless absurdity and its futile attempts to create perfection, cleverly wrapped in a murder mystery,” “from a popular and innovative Turkish author.” [14]

Maureen Freely writing in Cornucopia states, "Set in a city that feels Russian but is populated with Chinese names, full of nineteenth-century languor but speckled with Hollywood references and overshadowed by a villainous fertility expert, it is difficult to categorise, impossible to put down."[15]

A review in Sunday's Zaman states, “The Messenger Boy Murders, like life, unfolds its secrets one by one. What is the ultimate secret? Well, now, that would be telling!”[14]

  • The Messenger Boy Murders. trans. Richard Hamer. London: Milet Books. 2003. ISBN 978-1840593648.  

2 Girls

2 Girls (Turkish title:İki Genç Kızın Romanı) is a 2002 novel by Turkish writer and columnist Perihan Mağden republished in 2005 by Serpent's Tail in English language translation by Brendan Freely.


On-line translations

  • The Secret Meanings of Unappreciated Words at Boğaziçi University [1] and Words Without Borders [2].
  • Kitchen Accidents at Boğaziçi University [3].
  • Courage Does Not Reign at Boğaziçi University [4] and Words Without Borders [5].

Bibliography (partial)

  • Haberci Çocuk Cinayetleri (Messenger Boy Murders), 1991
  • Refakatçi (The Companion), novel, 1994
  • Mutfak Kazaları (Kitchen Accidents). poetry collection, 1995
  • Hiç Bunları Kendine Dert Etmeye Değer mi? (Is it Worth Bothering With These?), 1997
  • Kapı Açık Arkanı Dön ve Çık (Turn Around and Walk Out the Door), 1998
  • Fakat Ne Yazık ki Sokak Boştu (Unfortunately, However, The Street was Empty), 1999
  • İki Genç Kızın Romanı (Two Girls), novel, 2002
  • "Politik Yazılar" (Political Essays), Essays, 2006
  • Biz Kimden Kaçıyorduk Anne? (Who Were We Running From, Mother?), novel, 2007


  1. ^ Orer, Ayca (2008-12-07). "İlkokuldan mezun olalım istiyorum" (in Turkish). Taraf. Retrieved 2009-01-06. "İngiliz Kız Ortaokulu'nu bitirdim ben, en yaramaz kızdım. Robert Koleji uluslararası disiplin rekorunu kırdım. İtaat etmem gereken durumları hiçbir zaman anlamadım. Bu da bence annemin yetiştirmesi yüzünden. "Şuna itaat etmelisin" fikrini hiçbir zaman vermedi annem. Ve iftihar etti, benim itaatsizliklerimle çılgınca eğlendi. Herhalde o da büsbütün beni gazladı."  
  2. ^ "Yaddo Writers: June, 1926–August, 2006". pp. pg.11. Retrieved 2008-07-30.  
  3. ^ a b c Pamuk, Orhan (2006-06-03). "A question of conscience". Guardian, Books Section. Archived from the original on 2006-06-03. Retrieved 2008-07-20.  
  4. ^ Adil, Alev. Review of 2 Girls, by Perihan Mağden (translated by Brendan Freely), Independent, November 9, 2005, accessed June 7, 2006.
  5. ^ a b Boland, Vincent. "Turkish journalist in court for 'undermining armed forces'", Financial Times, June 7, 2006.
  6. ^ Arsu, Sebnem (2007-02-09). "Civic Groups Seek to Amend Law on Insults to Turkish State". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-05. "Perihan Magden, a journalist who is one of a number of people given security protection by the government after Mr. Dink’s death"  
  7. ^ a b "Perihan Magden". Writers in Prison. English Pen. Retrieved 2008-07-24.  
  8. ^ Mağden, Perihan (2006-06-07). "Vicdani Red Bir İnsan Hakkıdır" (in Turkish). bianet. Retrieved 2008-07-20.  
  9. ^ Adil, Alev (2006-05-08). "Commentary". New Statesman. Retrieved 2008-07-24.  
  10. ^ a b "Turkish writer in call-up trial", BBC News, June 7, 2006.
  11. ^ Popham, Peter. "Leading Turkish writer faces jail after incurring wrath of military", Independent, June 7, 2006, accessed June 8, 2006.
  12. ^ Kart, Emine. "Mağden’s case puts Turkey’s conscience on trial," Turkish Daily News, June 7, 2006.
  13. ^ Perihan Mağden Acquitted - IFEX
  14. ^ a b "The Messenger Boy Murders". Milet Books. Retrieved 2009-10-24.  
  15. ^ Freely, Maureen. "A Dual Intelligence". Cornucopia 30. Retrieved 2009-10-24.  

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