IPA Prix Voltaire Given to Turkish Publishers


Turhan Gunay of Cumhuriyet

GENEVA (The Bookseller) — A Turkish publisher and a Turkish publishing house — Turhan Gunay of Cumhuriyet Books and the multilingual publishing house Evrensel — have been named joint winners of the 2017 International Publishers Association’s Prix Voltaire.

The prize marks courage in upholding the freedom to publish.

The IPA said the decision to award this year’s prize to Gunay and Evrensel came “amid the Turkish government’s remorseless purge of all critical voice in the media, academia and all areas of cultural life.”

Gunay, who is editorial director of the Book Supplement for Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, as well as an executive at the newspaper’s book publishing branch, went on trial in Istanbul last week alongside several journalist colleagues, on terror-related charges. He had spent nine months in pre-trial detention. Gunay was released on Friday July 28, under “judicial control” ahead of the next hearing.

Evrensel, which publishes in Kurdish, Armenian, Assyrian and Arabic as well as Turkish, was forced to stop trading when its assets were seized following the July 2016 coup attempt.

Kristenn Einarsson, chairman of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee, said: “The freedom to publish situation in Turkey is severely limited today, and we chose to recognise the immense courage of Turkish publishers who dare to keep working despite the huge risks. Turhan Gunay is a book publisher, journalist and literary critic who has devoted his life to books and publishing, and he is paying a high price at the hands of a vengeful Turkish government. Evrensel on the other hand represents many publishing houses that have been closed on spurious grounds, leaving many hundreds out of work and the Turkish book world greatly impoverished. Both are deserving recipients of the IPA Prix Voltaire, for both embody the determination to publish freely in a country where the authorities will apparently stop at nothing to silence them.”

The prize presentation will take place at the Gothenburg Book Fair on September 29, with representatives of the recipients present to receive the award.