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Talât Sait Halman Translation Award is presented for the first time

Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts introduced an encouragement award in honour of Talât Sait Halman to support outstanding translations of literary works, including but not limited to poetry, short stories and novels. The award ceremony for the first Talât Sait Halman Translation Award was held on 8 December 2015 at Martı Istanbul Hotel. 2015 Talât Sait Halman Translation Award of 15.000 TL was presented to Siren İdemen, for her outstanding translation of Georges Perec’s La Boutique Obscure: 124 Rêves, titled in Turkish Karanlık Dükkân: 124 Rüya.

İKSV Chairman Bülent Eczacıbaşı celebrated the legacy of Talât Sait Halman in his opening speech: “Talât Sait Halman served as Turkey’s first Minister of Culture and later as Ambassador for Cultural Affairs and was the President of the İKSV Board of Trustees since 2008. On the first anniversary of his passing away, we remember him with great respect. Mr. Halman sympathised with İKSV and the Istanbul Festival at a very early stage and was among the first supporters of the founder of İKSV, Nejat Eczacıbaşı. He supported the Foundation as both the Minister of Culture and also as an intellectual. As the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), we want to keep his memory alive by supporting new and outstanding examples of literary translation, which is the area that he dedicated his life. I hope, via Talât Sait Halman Translation Award, we will both support the works of translators, and also contribute to his remembrance by the future generations.” Following Bülent Eczacıbaşı, daughter of Talât Sait Halman and actress Defne Halman gave a brief speech.

Applications of publishing houses and translators for Talât Sait Halman Translation Award had been evaluated by a Selection Committee headed by Doğan Hızlan and composed of author, translator, and critic Sevin Okyay, author and translator Ahmet Cemal, author and translator Yiğit Bener, and author Kaya Genç. Approximately 50 works that were completed within 2015, including poems, short stories and novels applied for the award, which was announced in October 2015.

The head of the selection committee, Doğan Hızlan, announced the winner of the award as translator Siren İdemen, explaining that her success is not only “transferring the words and the ideational context of the original,” and added: “Siren İdemen not only reflected the author’s original style and dialect with her full command of Turkish but also came up with creative equivalents for the frequent words, sounds and wicked rhymes predominant in the original. While doing that, she did not omit cultural substratum and superstratum of the original but brought the original to the reader, by either giving footnotes or imbedding in the translation. To conclude, Siren İdemen deserved this award by virtue of the fact that she successfully reproduced Perec’s challenging original as equivalently as possible in terms of its poetic values.” The award was presented to Siren İdemen by the Chairman of İKSV Bülent Eczacıbaşı.

Born in 1961 in İstanbul, Siren İdemen studied French in Galatasaray High School. In addition to co-founding magazines such as Express, Roll and Bir+Bir, she served as news reporter, author and editor. Some of her literary translations are; Ricardo Guiraldes, Don Segundo Sombra (Bozkırdaki Gölgeler, 1983); Jean Leca, Nations et Nationalismes (Uluslar ve Milliyetçilikler, 1998); Annie Ernaux, L'evenement (Kürtaj, 2000); Annie Ernaux, La place (Babam, 2001); Habib Suadiya, La sale guerre (Kirli Savaş, 2001), Enki Bilal, Quatre? (Dört?, 2010); Enki Bilal, Animal'z (Mahlukk, 2011); Hubert Reeves, L’univers expliqué à mes petits-enfants (Meraklısına Evren, 2012); Bertrand Santini, Le Yark (Yark, 2014); M. Cieutat, P. Rouyer, Haneke par Haneke (Haneke Haneke’yi Anlatıyor, 2014); and George Perec, La boutique obscure: 124 rêves (Karanlık Dükkân: 124 Rüya, 2015).

Pioneering names from theatre and literary milieus attended the night hosted by Martı Istanbul Hotel. The award ceremony was presented by Ceylan Saner. Application deadline for Talât Sait Halman Translation Award 2016 is September 2016. Publishing houses and translators may apply with their literary translations from any other language to Turkish and published within 2016.

About Talât Sait Halman

Born in Istanbul in 1931, Talât Sait Halman graduated from Robert College in 1951 and received his Master’s Degree from Columbia University in 1954. For 30 years he was on the faculties of Columbia University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and New York University, where he also served as a professor and Chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures for 10 years. In 1998, he founded the Department of Turkish Literature at Bilkent University and appointed as Director. He also served as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Letters at Bilkent University.

Being Turkey’s first Minister of Culture and later, Ambassador for Cultural Affairs, Halman also held positions as Deputy Permanent Representative at the United Nations and as a member of the Board of Directors of PEN American Centre. He was a member of the UNESCO Executive Board for four years. He served as President of the UNICEF Turkish National Committee from 2003 onwards and President of the İKSV Board of Trustees from 2008 until his passing on 5 December 2014.

Halman has published 75 books and over 3,000 articles, studies, newspaper columns and essays in English and Turkish along with over 5,000 poem translations. Almost 30 of Halman’s books are in English. His vast corpus of translations includes major literary works from classical and modern Turkish literature. Halman was the chief editor of The Journal of Turkish Literature which is the first scholarly English-language journal devoted in its entirety to Turkish literature. Some of Halman’s books have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Hebrew, Persian, Russian, Spanish and Urdu. In addition to more than 5,000 poem translations and two poetry books published in English, a work of Halman’s collected poems titled Ümit Harmanı (Harvest of Hope) was released by İş Bankası Cultural Publications. Halman has translated the complete sonnets of Shakespeare into Turkish and the last book he published before his death was William Shakespeare: Aşk ve Anlatı Şiirleri (Shakespeare’s Poems of Love and Narration). Together with this 4,000 verse book, all of Shakespeare’s works had been translated into the Turkish language.

Halman’s awards include many literary prizes, honorary doctorates from Boğaziçi University and Ankara University, the UNESCO Medal, Columbia University’s Thornton Wilder Prize for Translation, the Most Successful Turkish Scholar in the U.S. Award, the Distinguished Service Award of the Turkish Academy of Sciences and of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, and finally Knight Grand Cross (GBE), the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, conferred on him by Queen Elizabeth II.