The making of world literature: Turkish fiction as a case study

Yildiz H.

NEOHELICON, vol.46, no.2, pp.411-433, 2019 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 46 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s11059-019-00502-4
  • Journal Name: NEOHELICON
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.411-433
  • Keywords: World literature, Turkish literature, Global fiction, Fiction in translation, Transnational literature, TRANSLATION, LANGUAGE
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This study is an investigation of the conditions and contexts of translated fiction, especially Turkish fiction, in international publishing and literary circles. Based on current discussions on what constitutes "world literature" and interviews conducted with cultural intermediaries in the transnational publishing world, this article focuses on the factors influencing the production, circulation, and reception processes of transnational fiction in the global literary field. These factors include the process of selection in international publishing houses and the ways in which translated fiction is presented and received in the literary publishing world, such as through book reports, reviews, and awards. The case of Orhan Pamuk as an example of a "celebrity author" in the current world literature canon is discussed in comparison with the entry of another Turkish author, Hasan Ali Toptas, into global circulation "against the odds" according to many of the criteria relevant for "world literature." Thus, focusing on the dynamic relationship between sites of cultural production and institutionalizing, and using recent trends in the global dissemination of Turkish literature as a case study, the article draws attention to the consideration of material conditions of global literature, institutions of literature, and the necessity of interrogation of the assumptions on which "world literature" debates are based. Since the world literature canon is in the process of formation at the moment, demystifying the production, circulation, and reception processes of this formation and drawing attention to the uneven representation of literatures from the world is crucial to our understanding and the formation of a more inclusive system.