Sabiha Sertel was born into revolution in 1895, as an independent Turkey rose out of the dying Ottoman Empire. The nation's first professional female journalist, her unrelenting push for democracy and social reforms ultimately cost Sertel her country and freedom.
Shortly before her death in 1968, Sertel completed her autobiography Roman Gibi (Like a Novel), which was written during her forced exile in the Soviet Union. Translated here into English for the first time, and complete with a new introduction and comprehensive annotations, it offers a rare perspective on Turkey's history as it moved to embrace democracy, then violently recoiled. The book reveals the voice of a passionate feminist and committed socialist who clashes with the young republic's leadership. A unique first-hand account, the text foreshadows Turkey's increasingly authoritarian state. Sertel offers her perspective on the fierce divisions over the republic's constitution and covers issues including freedom of the press, women's civil rights and the pre-WWII discussions with European leaders about Hitler's rising power.
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Sabiha Sertel (1895-1968) is considered the first professional female journalist in modern Turkey.
Tia O'Brien is an award-winning reporter and editor based in San Francisco. Her journalism focuses on politics, business and technology, Turkey and consumer affairs.
Nur Deris is a freelance translator and interpreter and worked most recently at the European Masters in Conference Interpreting at Bosphorus University, Istanbul.
David Selim Sayers is a Founding Member of the Paris Institute for Critical Thinking (PICT) and a Lecturer at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO), Universite Sorbonne Paris Cite.
Evrim Emir-Sayers is a Founding Member of the Paris Institute for Critical Thinking (PICT) and worked as a Lecturer in Philosophy at San Francisco State University.
Biographical and Historical Timeline
Glossary of Terms
1. Introduction To Life
2. In America
3. The Return Home
4. Publishing Resimli Ay
5. Life In Politics
6. Turkey In The War Years
7. Turkey At The End Of The War
8. The Goerusler Journal
9. The Tan Incidents
10. The Founding Of The Democrat Party And The Arrests
11. The Human Rights Association
12. The Provocations Continue
13. To My Countrypeople
This astonishing book does more than introduce us to one of the most extraordinary Turkish women of her generation. It is full of stories and insights that shed new light on the turbulent first half of the twentieth century. From now on, no one will be able to write social, cultural or political history of Turkey during that period without referring to this fascinating memoir. -- Stephen Kinzer, American journalist The Struggle for Modern Turkey is a vivid translation of a phenomenal work of personal and political history. The life of Sabiha Sertel--a pioneering woman, pioneering Turk, pioneering socialist activist, and pioneering journalist--and the history she tells, will move and inspire readers. It will also unsettle myriad assumptions and truisms about life and politics in twentieth-century Turkey. Her courage and insight burst forth from these pages, and invite us into her struggle, which is, after all, a universal struggle for justice. -- Christine Philliou, Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley, USA Sabiha Sertel's memoirs have long been a unique and crucial view onto the dynamism and tumult of Turkey's 20th century. The appearance now of a careful, eloquent, and accessible English translation will open her expansive vista on Turkish politics, society, and culture to new audiences, and ought to be a cause for celebration. -- James Ryan, Associate Director, Hagop Kevorkian Center, New York University, USA The story of Turkey's first female journalist, Sabiha Sertel, is not only about Turkey as it went through the pains of establishing as a modern country and certainly is not confined to its setting of the decades that led up to and follow the second World War. This is the story of a woman who had to stood up against racist and sexist slurs emanating from her male colleagues. This is the story of a journalist who had to face imprisonment, endured life- threatening attacks from the far-right and forced to live in exile. At a time when press freedom and truth itself are under attack around the world, Sertel's memoir provides timely lessons for us journalists and for anyone who cares for free speech and press. It is both a story of hope and courage but also of despair as it displays that time does not always bring progress but moves in a cyclical motion with the same horrifying fall backs lurking ahead for a liberal democratic order. -- Ezgi Basaran, former Editor-in-Chief of Radikal and author of Frontline Turkey The publication of Sabiha Sertel's memoir, Roman Gibi, in English is a major contribution to fields of Turkish studies, feminist historiography, literary studies, and human rights. Sabiha Sertel's memoir makes accessible to English readers for the first time insights into an extraordinary woman's life in the late Ottoman Empire and Turkish republic. It provides an intriguing view of the lives of progressive, leftist social elites engaged in efforts to transform the young country into a more egalitarian and democratic nation-state. The translation of Sertel's memoir is remarkably timely as well, given renewed authoritarian repression of intellectuals and journalists in 21st Century Turkey. -- Kathryn Libal, Director, Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut
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