Meet our co-agents in Turkey

Turkish agents

Kalem Agency is a literary agency founded in Istanbul, Turkey, and is one of those who builds bridges between books and languages. They represent numerous renowned Turkish authors, and work as co-agents for foreign publishers and literary agencies They also organize ITEF, an international literary festival and a fellowship programme every year.

Feb 24, 2021

Nazlıcan, Kardelen and Safak are all working tirelessly for our books in Turkey. They work with different genres: Nazlikan focuses on children- and YA books, Safak on nonfiction, while Kardelen is responsible for the fiction titles.

Could you tell us a little about your work?
- Nazlıcan: Since 2018, I have been working as children’s and YA titles’ agent at Kalem Agency. Travelling the cities is my favorite hobby.
- Kardelen: After my studies on advertising and journalism, I started working at Kalem in 2018 and have been co-agenting for foreign fiction titles since then. Discovering foreign cultures abroad has always been my greatest passion. So to be doing this by literature amazes me everyday.
- Şafak: After a master degree in American literature from college, I worked as an editor for several publishers. And for almost 2 years now, I have been working with nonfiction books in Kalem Agency. I also translate from English to Turkish, spend my free time to get my bachelor in political science and to perfect mon amour, my French, that is.

Could you tell us more about the situation for translated books in your market?
- Kardelen: Currently 60% of the market is translated books. Most part of it is from English speaking countries of course, but as Kalem Agency we work hard to increase the recognition of European, Scandinavian, Middle Eastern and Asian literature as well.
- Şafak: The Turkish market is huge. There are many types of publishers from conservatives to leftist. There are both publishers who pay attention to the real literary value, and publishers that focus more on commercial success. This diversity makes me alive throughout the day and makes the day unpredictable. Isn’t it special to witness a book’s journey from one country to another, one cover and title to another?
- Nazlıcan: Regarding children’s titles, there is no language barriers. Not only English, but also the other languages for children’s books sell very well in Turkey. Different cultures are also being interesting for Turkish publishers.

What kind of books from Scandinavia are publishers looking for/or has been successful with?
- Şafak: Novels from Scandinavia generally work very well in the Turkish market. Some popular science books and self-help titles are also read a lot.And of course Jostein Gaardner’s Sophie’s World is still a bestseller in Turkey.
- Kardelen: Turkish publishers have overall an interest in Scandinavian thrillers, like many other foreign publishers. But lately there’s been a huge interest in literary fiction as well. For instance; Dag Solstad and Erlend Loe have a huge audience in Turkey right now.
- Nazlıcan: Turkish children’s publishers are interested in Scandinavian authors. Especially Lisa Aisato. She is one of the most famous authors in Turkey nowadays. Personally, I enjoy her work a lot.

Do you have a personal favorite book/author from Scandinavia?
- Nazlıcan: Hmm, Erlend Loe, Lisa Aisato, Nora Brech are some of the names that comes to my mind. There will be more names in the future, I’m sure.
- Şafak: Well, I love reading modern Scandinavian literature but I’ll go with a classical choice: Henrik Ibsen. I adore his mind and talent. The last play I saw before lockdown was Hedda Gabler.
- Kardelen: The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder is one of my favorite books of all time. Now that I mentioned it, I think I’m going to read it again. :)

Would you let us know the recipe for your favorite dish – so we can make it as a taste from your country?
- Kardelen: I would say “Kumpir” (Baked Stuffed Potato) Hope you like it when you try. https://turkishstylecooking.com/kumpir.html
- Şafak: Well, Turkish cuisine blending with the Ottoman recipes is rich indeed. I love Hünkarbeğendi a lot! (also known as Sultan’s Delight) and here is the receipt if you like to try: https://www.turkeysforlife.com/2012/09/turkish-recipes-hunkar-begendi-ottoman.html
- Nazlıcan: Absolutely, it’s Bulgur Pilavı. I can eat it every day and every meal. I am going to cook Bulgur now! This is the recipe: https://turkishstylecooking.com/einkorn-bulgur-pilav-recipe.html

The travel ban makes it difficult to travel these days. But when we are allowed to travel again, would you let us know the best places to visit in your city?
- Şafak: First, you should go to Sultanahmet which was the center of the three empires once and where historical places such as Topkapı Palace, High Sophia and Basilica Cistern. Then visit Beyoğlu and definitely Ortaköy and eat Kardelen’s favorite meal, kumpir, while taking a Boshphours tour to see the historical waterside houses called yalı which is one of a kind.
If it’s summer, you should take this trip just before sunset and witness how the sky, and the city change in minutes. Finally, İstanbul is located literally in two continents. So, don’t forget the Asian side, Kadıköy, seen as one of the coolest spot by foreigners and locals, and where the Kalem team also works. Where you might buy a beer at our favorite pub, while listening to David Bowie.
- Nazlıcan: I live in Istanbul but I suggest you to see Safranbolu which is one of the historical places in Turkey. I studied in Safranbolu and it’s my favorite place in the World. For Istanbul, you should see Kadıköy, Beşiktaş, Üsküdar and Karaköy. There are beautiful cafè shops, bookstores and cats!
- Kardelen: The first one that comes to my mind is Grand Bazaar. It is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops. The other one is Galata Tower, which was used by the Ottomans, but nowadays is more of a touristic place where you can climb and see the whole city. It is also in a very centered area, surrounded by many good restaurants and shops.

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