ISTANBUL, Turkey (Kurdistan24) – An anthology of Swedish literary works translated into Kurdish and Turkish met readers, as authors read selected pieces to the audience at a Friday night event organized at the Consulate General of Sweden in Istanbul.
Swedish-Kurdish novelist Firat Cewerî, who translated the works of some 40 authors and poets from Sweden, said by compiling the anthology he wanted to pay back his “debt” to his adopted country.
“Sweden is a land that has provided Kurds with unique opportunities both in political and literary terms,” Cewerî told a Kurdistan24 reporter at the event.
“I, myself, am one of those indebted to this country that helped me write books and publish magazines in my language which was banned in Turkey,” he continued.
The night with cocktails was also a celebration of 250 years of the Swedish Press Freedom Act.
The Mardin-born Cewerî left Turkey in 1980 for Sweden at a time when the government took harsh measures against the Kurdish language, criminalizing any use of it in public and cultural life.
In Sweden, he penned and translated dozens of books and issued the now-closed seasonal Kurdish literary magazine Nûdem whose publication lasted a decade.
The Kurdish literary magazine had supplied a diaspora generation with works denied to their parents in their mother tongue.
“In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Sweden became a haven, a return to roots and language for young Kurdish activists who had to flee to Europe,” Cewerî said.
“Now, modern Kurdish writers are finally able to print books in our homeland,” he added. “Sweden played a role and found its place in our history.”
Among the Swedes whose work Cewerî presented are the 19th-century playwright August Strindberg, the 20th-century children’s writer Astrid Lindgren, and crime and children’s author Henning Mankell.
Works by Nobel Prize winner novelist Selma Lagelöf, essayist Pär Lagerkvist, as well as the 2011 winner poet Tomas Tranströmer are also included, according to the Avesta Publishing House which printed the anthology.
Authors Cecilia Davidsson, Eva Runefelt, Maria Modig, and Jonas Modig attended the event alongside Cewerî, reading selected pieces from their work to the guests.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Silan Cilgin in Istanbul contributed to this report)