Turkish author, Ece Temelkuran, was today announced as the winner of the 2017 Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award for her first novel translated into English, Women Who Blow on Knots, the story of four women on a journey from Tunisia to Lebanon. All 50 debut novels and short story collections for adults and young adults featured in the Book Festival public programme this year were eligible for the Award, which is voted for by readers and visitors to the Festival.
Ece Temelkuran told the Mumble “I am thrilled that the story I have written to survive the most difficult time of my life is now inspiring many and receiving such an award. I would like to thank my translator Alex Dawe, my editor Penny Thomas and Richard Davies from Parthian Books. And thank you Edinburgh International Book Festival. Many thanks to all the readers who chose to join the insane journey of Women Who Blow on Knots.”
Ece Temelkuran is one of Turkey’s best-known novelists and political commentators. She has been a regular guest on BBC Radio 4 and has also appeared on Channel 4 news while her journalism has featured in Der Spiegel, the Guardian and the New York Times. She currently lives in Zagreb, Croatia. Women Who Blow on Knots, her second novel and first to be translated into English, has been a phenomenon in Turkey selling over 120,000 copies. Full of political rhetoric and strong, atypically Muslim female characters, Temelkuran has woven an empowering tale that challenges the social perceptions of politics, religion and women in the Middle East as well as the universal bonds of sister and motherhood.
Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival said “Women Who Blow on Knots is a perfect winner for this year’s First Book Award. It’s a funny, pacey and above all life-affirming road movie of a novel which celebrates strength and sisterhood among a group of Arab women at the height of the Arab Spring uprisings. Ece Temelkuran is not only a great novelist: she’s a fearless journalist whose writing about Turkey and its neighbouring countries deserves to be read widely across the world. I’m proud that book lovers from across the world voted for Ece’s exuberant novel.”
Women Who Blow on Knots has been translated into English by Alex Dawe, and published in the UK by Parthian Books with the support of a PEN Translates Award. Richard Davies of Parthian Books said “Women Who Blow on Knots is a book that takes the reader on a road trip of the mind in the company of four remarkable women racing across the Middle East at the end of the Arab Spring. We are delighted that Ece’s words and ideas have had such a resonance with readers at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. She is novelist of daring and ambition in difficult times.”
The First Book Award, now in its eighth year, encourages people to discover the wealth of debut fiction from Scotland and around the world featured in the Edinburgh International Book Festival Programme each year and to vote for their favourite. Every adult and young adult writer whose debut novel, novella or short story collection featured in the public programme in Edinburgh in August, including those whose work was published in English for the first time, was eligible for the Award. Readers and Book Festival audiences were able to vote at the Festival or online and over 2,000 votes were received by the closing date. Every book eligible for the Award received at least one vote.