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Zeynep Oral

Turkish writer and activist

Zeynep Oral is a writer, theatre critic, cultural editor, peace activist and women’s rights advocate. Born in Istanbul in 1946, she graduated from the American Girls College of Izmir (1964), l’École Supérieure de Journalisme in Paris (1966) and the Sorbonne’s Institut des Études Théatrales (1964 – 67). In 1968 she began work as a columnist for the newpaper Niliyet and in 1972 founded the Miliyet Cultural Review (bimonthly magazine on art and culture), of which she was editor in chief until 2001. Since then she has worked for the newspaper Cumhuriyet. She is president of Turkish PEN and honorary Vice-President of the AICT (International Association of Theatre Critics).

Author of 18 books, including short stories, a collection of essays, biographies, travel diaries and research on women, human rights and culture. Her book Tukunun Romanı: Leyla Gencer, about the Turkish soprano Leyla Gencer, is of particular note and has been translated into English, French and Italian. To coincide with the award of the Free Voice Prize, PEN Català arranged the translation of two of the author’s short stories into Catalan.