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Nermin Mollaoğlu’s place in our publishing world is indisputable. We recently had an interview which will be thought-provoking for anyone interested in books. We talked about many topics, from copyrights to Kalem Agency and KalemHouse, from the İstanbul International Literature Festival (İTEF) to her new publishing house, from her biggest dream to her regret. One topic led to another, and two hours flew. We will publish the whole interview in three parts, and here is the first one. Enjoy reading!


You have been in the publishing world since 2002. You worked at Yapı Kredi Publishing as Türkiye’s first copyright professional and learnt how to buy and sell copyrights by participating in international fairs on behalf of the same publishing house. Then you founded Kalem Agency and became a literary agent. Now you are the manager of this agency. At the same time, you are the planner and executive director of İTEF, Türkiye’s first international literature festival. And of course, there is Linden, which is brand new news, and we will talk a lot about it in our interview. Without digressing too much, I would like to ask the following question first: You have been in touch with many languages of contemporary world literature for years and you are at an equal distance to all of them. For you, no language is more valuable or superior to another. “There is no great language; there is a great market,” you say. Could you elaborate on this a little?

The words we use symbolise our view of the world, our view of ourselves, our view of our country. When we say, “small language” instead of “small market”, I think we are insulting that language and the people who use that language, and even the country that speaks that language. That is why I am very sensitive about this issue. I try to pay attention to it. I try to correct those around me -no matter what, no matter what environment we are in- because languages and literatures are limitless. No matter how many millions of people speak these languages or how much budget countries allocate to their defence industries, we need to treat these languages equally. Of course, we earn more money from some of them. We can sell more books than some because in some countries the number of readers, the purchasing power of readers is higher, or such a culture is more intense there. The book has more of a place in their lives. I invite everyone to be sensitive about this issue. Small words can change a lot in our lives.




You are sitting in the centre of a table. There are writers on one side, publishers on the other, and translators on the other. Do you have very difficult moments at that table?

Indeed! But no matter what, no matter which side of the table we agree with, we represent writers, and we are the people who work for writers so that they can work under better conditions and reach more readers because we get our commission from writers, we are the people employed by writers. Therefore, if there is a delicate situation on the scales, my heart favours the writer’s side a little and that’s how it should be. I try to teach this to the new literary agents at Kalem Agency: We are always on the side of the author. I don’t remember anything like, “I had a hard time with this,” but in situations where my authors are upset, I feel more upset because I am the person who must ensure that they are not upset or subjected to injustice, but when the conditions of the market, the conditions of the publishers, the conditions of the country sometimes don’t go as desired, there are situations where we get upset, angry and lose money.


The copyright issue seems to have settled down a little more in Türkiye because when I was a student at university, for example, I used to see more stalls selling pirated books here and there. I am not sure if this is a correct observation, though.

Maybe it’s selectivity in perception… We don’t come across it anymore, but twenty years ago, when I went to Yapı Kredi Publishing for a job interview, in my bag there was a pirated book by Ayfer Tunç: Bir Mâniniz Yoksa Annemler Size Gelecek. I bought that book from a pirate seller at an overpass in Ataşehir and I didn’t know how wrong it was. Then, as I got into this business… You, me, everyone who is in the publishing sector and who works for people to access more books feeds from this market, feeds from this river. The more we pollute that river and the more we obstruct it, the less abundantly it flows because piracy is really like that. Its water is cut off. It is a harmful situation for the country and for culture and art life. I am trying hard to explain this to more people. Türkiye has come a long way in this regard. Our professional associations and the Ministry of Culture employees have contributed a great deal here. This awareness has developed for twenty years thanks to them. But last night I was about to go to sleep when I saw an Instagram post describing the book of an author we represent very well, but it was so unconscious that it was saying the following: “I have read this book from PDF.” In other words, he found the PDF from somewhere and read it, but in fact the PDF is a pirate itself! He even said this: “This image is not mine, I got it from the internet.” This is the case, but people like it because he reads books. “Oh, how beautiful!” they say. Maybe they will ask him for a PDF and continue, but when that writer goes to the market, does his shopping, or buys a mobile phone, who will pay that money? Because to write, he needs to feed himself. He needs to feed himself spiritually and materially. “Let me read from PDF, let the rich pay for the printed version” is also a very bad situation, an unfair situation. Even the slightest situation related to piracy needs to be intervened. And of course, this needs to be explained. “I haven’t bought the pirated book,” for example, “but read it from the PDF.” PDF is also a pirate! The types of piracy need to be explained, and I think this can be done at a very young age when parents pay attention to piracy at home. A child who gets used to piracy grows up with the feeling that he/she can access everything without paying or disregarding labour, and pirated books and bank robberies are fed by the same state of mind. I don’t think anyone would want their children to rob a bank or to enter a shop and steal a dress they cannot afford and leave the shop. Mothers and fathers want their children to be good people in better conditions. Therefore, they need to teach them the awareness of copyright. And they should do this primarily by themselves and show it to their children as an example. I did not know this in those years, my level of perception had not yet reached this. I was wrong. I especially want to explain this to people. Just like the concepts of good and bad which are learnt at a young age, the awareness of copyrights should be learnt at a young age as well.


The PDF is like an innocent cover. “I’ll send you a PDF of the book now.” We make this mistake so often without realising that it is a mistake!

Yes, this will also change. I think this awareness will also develop like how we have reached this point for twenty years. In addition, methods to prevent digital piracy are also increasing. There are serious laws and sanctions on this issue. People are now more aware that this is a crime, that it is a criminal offence, and that it is an illegal business that does not depend on a complaint.


Shall we continue our conversation with Kalem Agency? You founded Kalem Agency with your husband Mehmet Demirtaş in 2005…

Oh, I’m so sorry. Sometimes there is such confusion. For example, I started Yapı Kredi Publishing in the last month of 2002. If we say that I started in 2003 -I sometimes say 2002, sometimes 2003 because I started in the last days of 2002- Kalem Agency is the same. The official establishment of Kalem Agency, the company information in the notary is 17 December 2005, but of course we had started working before we established that company. For instance, when we went to Frankfurt, Kalem Agency was there, but one of our elders told us, “Set up the company last, when you are going to issue your first invoice.” This is my advice as well: It would really be the best thing to set up the company last. This is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received. Kalem Agency’s active contracting and invoicing started in 2006.


At the 2017 London Book Fair, you received the International Literary Agent Excellence Award.

I like that!

It’s a great award!


Let me ask you this: Is Kalem Agency any different from other literary agencies in the world?

Yes, we are. Of course, we have many similar features, but we have one that makes us different from many agencies. I am proud of my entire team in this regard. Everyone who has ever worked at Kalem Agency has this sensitivity. In fact, as I stated at the beginning of our conversation, being close to every language and working at an equal distance to every language is in Kalem Agency’s DNA. Some very large, well-known agencies, for example, when they are trying to sell books to Spain or Norway, do not even include Mongolia in their atlases. In the same way, they do not bother with the small market languages of Georgia, Armenia, or Estonia, saying, “There is too much paperwork in these countries,” or “The royalties to be earned from these countries would be very small,” and so on. This causes two kinds of poverty. While we know the names of the countries we criticise, that is, only the countries with high economic power or countries with a developed arms industry, we do not know the culture or art of other countries and we create an ignorance towards them. This also applies to our own country. Then the five or six big publishers of the world would also ignore Türkiye. In order not to put ourselves there, we need to know other countries as well, in other words, we should not do what we condemn ourselves. That’s why I try to go to all countries. Even when I am very busy, I go to countries for which I think, “There will be no business there, I can’t sell any books there,” and very interestingly, I am rewarded for this, maybe in the short term, maybe in the medium term, maybe in the very long term. Next week, for instance, will be a busy one because it is the second reporting week of the Frankfurt Book Fair! I must sit down and work on this. I must produce the results of Frankfurt, which is the most important fair of the year for us, but they have invited me to Slovenia. I must go to Ljubljana for the Slovenian Book Fair. I am getting on the plane at eight o’clock on Tuesday morning and going to Slovenia to learn about Slovenian, a language that very few people really speak. I am going both ways because we need to learn about Slovenian literature, and we need to sell them books from Turkish literature. In the meantime, I try to do my homework before travelling there: Where is Slovenia, what is its capital city, how are its political and economic situations, what is its currency, what are its problems, who are its most famous writers, which writers have the most translated books, which publishers are publishing those writers in major markets… For example, Andrej Blatnik is an important Slovenian writer, and right after this interview we are having with you, I will research his publishing situation in other countries, his translation situation, in which countries he has been published. This is a multi-layered task. It is not a task that will immediately earn us money or a contract or a translation. This is a situation of creating an awareness, a perception and opening a place in our minds. Slovenia needs to be there, in our minds. Then in a completely different environment, for example at the Mexico Book Fair, when you meet a Slovenian publisher -let’s say he is a publisher of children’s books- when you tell him something about Slovenia, he will listen to you a little more attentively and maybe he will want to buy your books in a way he never thought of. This is very self-interested, isn’t it? So, you must do that task with the feeling that “something might come from somewhere”. You too do the same. Imagine you are on holiday, you are in Norway, and someone comes and says, “Oh, do you know, I’ve been to İstanbul! I have visited the touristic places and visited Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence as well. I have read these books of his and then switched to these books,”, wouldn’t you be impressed? We are all impressed because even in an environment where we try to put all our feelings of nationalism aside, with the feeling that “our language is our nationality”, this interest in us becomes a smile. We feel a little more interested in listening. If what we do is trade, it is also very useful in terms of creating cultural awareness.




Slovenia was the guest of honour at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, right? How was the fair for Slovenia? Was Slovenia able to express itself with its literature there? Because last year, when Spain was the guest of honour, the fair was very rich and full of literature.

Slovenia had an advantage. This advantage was also its disadvantage. When I go to Slovenia, I want to hear about it from them because at the opening, instead of talking about Slovenian literature, we talked about the Palestinian-Israeli war. This was the most discussed topic. I think Slovenian literature was given very little space. Maybe it was their luck, I don’t know. I think it would be better to hear from them next week. Yes, we all know Žižek. He gave a marvellous speech at the opening ceremony. I am very happy that I was at that ceremony, that I was able to applaud him with all my might. It was an unforgettable day for Frankfurt. It was unforgettable for my profession. I think I made a little more room in my heart for Slovenia by listening to the speeches of the Minister of Culture and the organisers of the fair and now I can understand what kind of a country it really is. In this intensity, I might not have gone to Slovenia, but now I am going there very willingly. Regarding Slovenia’s literature, I can say that their children’s books are very good, they are translated into many languages. They are very creative, and they allocate very serious funds to translate their own literature into other languages. They have translation support programmes. They also have writer residencies. Writers and publishers from foreign countries go and stay there, so I think they are trying very hard to promote their own literature. Slovenia is a very young country, thirty-two years old, and they have come a long way in such a short time. Their stand at the Frankfurt Fair was very nice. Their design was very nice. I think they were able to explain the existing Slovenian literature well, but what more could have been done or what were the criticisms? Because there is always something like that. There are those who criticise what has been done and think that things should have been done differently. I will make my judgement after listening to them, whether they were successful or not.


Let’s continue with KalemHouse: You opened KalemHouse in Yalova in 2021, right?

Yes, actually, we mediated.

And you did this to bring together writers and translators from all over the world. I didn’t know that your father provided you financial support for KalemHouse after your mother passed away. I learnt it while preparing my questions for this interview. Could you tell us the story of KalemHouse from that perspective?

Sure. After my mum died, the money from her house was divided between my sister and me. It was a small amount of money. It was the money for a small flat in Avcılar. Mehmet and I kept this money. There was a feeling that “One day we’ll set up a writer’s house”. We always had such an idea. Why did we have such an idea? Because we had seen examples of this in the world, and we knew how useful it was in promoting the literature of the country and supporting the writers. We realised it was a formation that would be very productive, maybe not in the very near term, but later. There are examples of this in many countries. There are those that are supported by the country, those that receive support from municipalities, those that are organised by private funds, and we wanted this to happen in Türkiye. KalemHouse was not the first, there were previous ones. We also thought that such a thing would be very good if we could hold one side of it. We make our living from literature. I serve literature with my husband. Maybe this was going to be the payback for years. It was a bit earlier than we had expected, I can admit that. We were thinking, “We can do this in the years to come.” Maybe we can do a bigger one in the years to come. And we are very happy to be in Yalova right now.

KalemHouse – Yalova

KalemHouse is a tiny house on a seven-acre plot of land and among a lot of trees. What we are trying to do, yes, is to give a house, to provide a comfortable accommodation for the writer. We only host writers from abroad. Unfortunately, we cannot host our writers in Türkiye. When an author comes to Türkiye, we want to bring him/her together with his/her readers, so our aim is to bring them together and somehow to fund the work during this time. This is a very important detail because writers are trying to write books while doing different jobs and their lives depend on it. They support a house, pay their children’s school instalments. These are not very easy jobs. Everyone in the publishing world is aware of it. Then we need to support these writers. We need to create funds for them. Everything started with this awareness, and I am very pleased to be doing this there. This year we organised the last day of İTEF in the garden of KalemHouse. We had many question marks about what to expect. We were even joking within the team, “How many people will come to the event?”, and the predictions were five or five hundred people! Because this is a very important detail when organising an event. How many people are you expecting? How many chairs do you need? There must be catering accordingly. And four hundred and seventy people came! We were very happy. We were very pleased that Yalova embraced KalemHouse. Everyone was there, from the gendarmerie commander and his officers to the provincial director of culture, from the teachers who work in schools to train the young generation as lovers of literature to the readers. We are very happy for this. We want to continue. We would like İTEF to organise more events there, or we would like to have events exclusive to KalemHouse, but I would like to open up this subject: At KalemHouse, we want to host not only writers but also translators who translate from Turkish into other languages. This is much more important because this is something that will feed our work. Translators do a very important job. Especially now, when we talk about “artificial intelligence translation”, we see translation as a profession that needs to be supported and we are open to all translators who translate from Turkish into other languages. We have noticed a feature that very few literary houses in the world have. I think this is a deficiency because I believe that literary researchers, culture and arts journalists, and festival directors should also be hosted in these houses. We are all parts of a chain, and we cannot progress in this field without a literary researcher or festival curator. In short, it is not only important to publish a book, but also to promote it in that country. Of course, there are agencies in Türkiye and in the world that do not do this. In other words, no one is forcing us to do this, and we can be very successful without doing this. I say this very sincerely, we absolutely do not have to do this. Sometimes, when we get tired, we say “Why are we doing this?” There are times when we feel like crying from exhaustion because we know there are agencies that are applauded without doing this, but this is how we are. And I am glad we are like this.




Let’s talk about İTEF, which stands for “İstanbul International Literature Festival”: You started organising İTEF in 2009, right? Your aim was to bring translators, literary critics, publishers, and readers together. You also have a fellowship programme. You host publishing professionals in İstanbul for four or five days during the week of İTEF. So, from whom do you receive the most financial support for İTEF? From whom do you have expectations? What else can be done? Do European Union funds contribute to this event?

Türkiye’s dance with the European Union is sometimes a waltz, sometimes a tango, sometimes a çiftetelli. Namely, when we started in 2009, İstanbul was to be the 2010 Capital of Culture and we thought, “If we organize 2009, we can get funding from this activity for 2010, perhaps even for 2009. We can at least get support from them.” I salute all the people who organised the İstanbul Capital of Culture event. They said, “Having an international literature festival in İstanbul is not something worth supporting.” And that year, an international literature festival could not be supported by the capital of culture organisation which had a budget as big as the world. Anyway, as I said, I salute them, let them continue their own work. In fact, we are a festival that continues in the “collective work” method, a phrase that Mehmet also uses a lot. This is a fund that everyone supports in small ways. We would have liked to have such a big name and to be able to move forward comfortably with the money of so-and-so company, but it didn’t work out. Since supporting literature is not something that brings results very quickly, I think big companies don’t see it appropriate to invest in it. Maybe that’s why they don’t support us, but literature is one of the branches of art that has the biggest and longest impact on the smallest budgets, perhaps even the leading one. But since they will not be able to see the results of this during their term of office or during the time they work in that company, they are not very favourable to such a thing. We have long stopped being angry and upset about what is happening. “Let’s move forward with what we have,” we say. 2009 and 2010 passed. We had a situation like this: The European Union was, and still is, supporting its members and candidate members in literature festivals. But there was a condition: It had to be a five-year literature festival. In other words, when you organised a literature festival for five years, they were convinced that you were a supportable and sustainable festival, and then they would support you. We had completed five years, and just as we were about to prepare for such a thing, Türkiye withdrew from the EU. As a result, Türkiye cannot receive money from such a fund for any literature festival. I remember that day very well. How could such a thing really happen!?! Yes, of course there are many political aspects to this. There are other reasons behind it. We don’t need to talk about it now. But we can not dance on the same dance floor with Europe, and somehow someone is pulling us from the right or the left and wants us to get off this dance floor, and the one who suffers the most from this is Türkiye itself, not Europe. In this situation, we need to continue saying, “Something may change again in the future, they may let us on this track,” because if we do not support those who make these decisions, we should not submit to their sanctions. This is our responsibility towards ourselves, towards the world. This year we were involved in a Goethe Institute project, a project organised by the institute, involving five countries, to change and develop literature. We collaborated with them and now Mehmet is in Antep. Within the scope of this project, we also have a travelling library and events are being held in more than ten cities with this travelling library. They are introduced to the literature of Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, and Macedonia. This travelling library of ours has visited all the countries I mentioned. It also introduced Turkish literature to them. They are currently in Türkiye as the last stop. I am proud of this. Travelling from city to city with a travelling library and holding events there was not an easy task, but it was quite successful. In situations where our expectations are very uncertain, we receive photographs from full halls. I am proud to be a part of this.


Is there or has there ever been any support from TEDA, a project of the Ministry of Culture to open Turkish literature to the outside world?

TEDA cannot directly support us or any other organisation in Türkiye because TEDA stands for the Project for the Internationalisation of Turkish Literature. TEDA can only support a publisher who intends to publish books written in Turkish in world languages and who obtains a contract for this. This means the following: We need to realise the sale of copyright; we need to have a contract for this. Let’s take a publisher from any country in the world, Sri Lanka, for example. We’ve recently made a sale to Sri Lanka as the newest country, and I liked it very much! A publisher has applied and will publish Hakan Günday’s novel Zamir. TEDA decided to support this translation and the book will be published in Sri Lanka. Isn’t that marvellous?


With the support of TEDA, our literature travels to countries we cannot easily visit. Our writers are read there. I am glad TEDA exists. I am very grateful to the team working there, but unfortunately many good projects in Türkiye are blown away by the winds of Ankara. I think the team working there has a great contribution to TEDA’s success today. The statistical information, that is, the information given to those who allocate budgets for TEDA, was given and defended so correctly and effectively that the project is continuing. And the number of authors who say “TEDA should not support me, my books should not be published,” has decreased. This project continues with a fund formed with our taxes. Each country has its own fund. Look, the USA still allocates money to support its own literature, France allocates incredible funds. I am giving examples for big market languages. The same is true in Slovenia, Norway, and Denmark. It is also valid in Mongolian and Arabic. Why don’t we also have a fund to promote our national literature? We have, but of course it has many faults. I must express my criticism because it is not perfect. This is a project that has its bad sides, but its good sides are much more dominant. What are its bad sides? I think it has lost its transparency in recent years. I wish there was more transparency. There must be a reason for this, and they will hopefully change later. The existence of TEDA is also a serious source of motivation because each country is trying to sell its own books. This is a trade, a big trade. Just as every country tries to sell its pasta, fruit, or tourism, it also tries to sell and promote its literature, and countries allocate funds and support for this. They do the same when selling cars, aeroplanes, weapons. They may lynch me now, saying, “Nermin has put those who sell arms and those who sell literature in the same place!” But we should not forget that this is a trade.




Shall we talk about Linden, too? Congratulations! You have opened a new publishing house in London with Tasja Dorkofikis and Geraldine D’Amico. Your partners are English and French, right?

Yes, but Tasja is also of Greek and Polish origin. Her grandparents came from there, so her name has both Greek and Polish flavours, but she is English, married to an Englishman, lives in England and has graduated from Oxford. She has been an editor for many years, she has been in the publishing world, and she has also been a festival director. Geraldine is the same. I met her when she was the French Cultural Attache in London, about twenty years ago. There used to be a very nice, big party in London. On Tuesdays, the whole publishing world would be there in French Culture. Geraldine was the organiser of the party. Then she was the director of the Jewish Literature Festival, a very old literary festival in London. She now lives in Paris. Geraldine has done a lot of translations and has worked in publishing. My partners are very experienced, and this was their idea, not mine. When they told me at the London Book Fair that they were setting up such a publishing house, I was very excited. Two women, two wonderful women, whom I admire very much for their view of the world, their work, their love of literature, and whom I respect very much… I said, “Can I be a partner with you?” and they accepted with great enthusiasm. Now we are preparing for a publishing house. Our logo has been finalised. We have chosen the book covers. But it turns out that these things progress much slower in London than in Türkiye, and maybe that’s the way it should be because in Türkiye, once a decision is made, it is very fast for a publishing house to emerge. Maybe it’s happening faster than it should. This happens without conducting a sectoral study, without talking to distributors, without informing bookstores. In other words, Türkiye is a country where preliminary preparations are made very quickly. This is the case in publishing as in many other fields. We are now trying to do this under London conditions. We will not be a very big publishing house. This is what we always tell ourselves. We will not be a bestseller publisher. We will publish world literature in English and the books we publish will be books that excite us. All three of us are very determined about this. It must be a joint decision of all three of us. Of course, all three of us come from very different cultures, different educations, and different countries, speak many languages, we have become a very different team, and we are fed from different languages. Let’s see how it will be… Our first book is still a long time away. We will publish our books at the beginning of 2025. As I’ve said before, since we will not be publishing bestsellers, we will publish books from world literature that we want to be read by the next generation. I think this is what we want in a nutshell. Would you please allow me to praise myself a little here? In İTEF 2009, one of our first authors was Olga Tokarczuk. At that time, she was an author who had probably been translated into only three, maybe four languages. With the support of our Polish translator Neşe Yüce, we hosted Olga in İstanbul. There were very few people at the event, but it was an honour for us to include Polish literature. Later, as you know very well, Olga received the Booker Prize and then the Nobel Prize. I have a nice memory about it, I would like to tell you that: Right after Olga received the Nobel, at the Frankfurt Fair -the Nobel is always announced just before or at the same time as the Frankfurt Fair- the Frankfurt team organised a big party. I was also invited to that party. It was a nice party. Olga walked through the door. Everyone was looking at her, applauding. It was a very beautiful moment and I want to mention that it was a very difficult party to get into. As I’ve told you, let me praise myself a little bit here. Olga embraced me with open arms, and everyone looked at us. I was very surprised that she did that. I didn’t expect it at all. “You were one of the first to believe in me, Nermin,” she said. We had never come together for a long time, but Olga’s books continued to be translated in Türkiye. Now she is represented by another agency, an agency in England, but I am very glad that our communication continues with such an embrace. Yes, we want to publish the next Olga Tokarczuks. We also want to publish Georgi Gospodinov. By the way, the Bulgarian author Gospodinov is one of our writers who came to İTEF in its second year. I met him at the door of this year’s book fair, just before the award ceremony. I asked him very sweetly, “Your books have been translated into how many languages so far, Georgi?” I knew that this number increases after the Booker Prize. “It’s not very important. It’s over thirty, but you were one of the first to believe in me,” he said like Olga. It’s a good feeling. I think it’s one of the sweetest, most sugary parts of what we do. I love that feeling and I want to have more of it. I want to go to the Booker ceremony with the books we publish, and I want to go to the Nobel. That’s all I want in life right now because I feel like I’ve done everything else.

I was going to come there anyway: “What do you dream of? What have you not done?” But I know very well that you want to take a writer of yours to the Booker ceremony and then to the Nobel.

Let’s do it early so that I can wear my beautiful dresses and be at the ceremony. That’s all I want right now in life. I want to go to pick out dresses for the Booker and Nobel ceremonies.

Haha! You’re marvellous!

Yeah, I want to go shopping but for a ceremony, namely Booker!

Preparing for it must be very enthusiastic, very exciting.

Yes, we talk about it with the team sometimes. What would we wear? Which brand would we shop from? It’s really exciting!


And this name “Linden”… There is a linden seed on your logo, isn’t there? Can we also learn its story?

It wasn’t my choice. I have to say, it was Tasja’s choice. I like the name. I like it very much. There are linden trees in the garden of our KalemHouse. I like the look of a linden tree very much. The name also sounds very nice to me. When we look at its history or do some research on it, we see that there was always a linden tree in the village squares and the villages were centred around it. According to my father, there was usually only one, I don’t know, maybe it’s not true. There is a linden tree in the garden of our KalemHouse, it is about two hundred years old, and I think five or six roots have grown at the same time, it is that big! Yes, we have linden trees in the garden of KalemHouse. By the way, I’ve learnt this at the last fairs I visited: We know the linden tree. It is a very ordinary tree for us, isn’t it? But the world doesn’t know linden so much. For example, there were publishers I met at the Frankfurt Book Fair, I was talking to a Japanese publisher, I said “linden,” and I saw on his face that it meant nothing to him. Then we realised that linden is a European tree. There are no linden trees in Egypt, not in Peru, not in India, and they don’t know this. They don’t know the word, either. That’s why it doesn’t have the same effect on them as it does on us. But for example, the publishers I met in Slovenia, Bulgarian publishers, or Romanian publishers say, “Oh, our streets are full of linden trees.” Linden is even known as one of the official trees of Slovenia. It’s a nice coincidence or fate because when I was talking about this with my partners for the first time, they said, “Let’s publish European literature and let’s publish it in English because we know about it”. Although I wanted to say, “Actually, I know also about other countries”, I didn’t talk much about it. And our first starting point was to publish European literature in English. This seems to coincide with Linden. One of the first books came from Croatian and one from Polish. We have copyrighted the books of two women writers, and they are currently being translated. It is such a beautiful name. I like it. I also like the name “Kalem” very much. Isn’t that beautiful: Kalem Agency? Linden is another beautiful name.

And “Kalem” is a name that can be easily pronounced in every language.

We also calm down when we drink linden, we wait for it to brew. It is a beautiful name that matches us very well. Yes, our logo has been designed accordingly. A very famous American designer has made our logo. These things seem very simple, but we’ve spent a lot of time on choosing the logo. We haven’t announced our covers yet, but they are ready. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort on our cover design. Yes, we are excited, but there is still a long way to go, we still have a year to publish the books.

Of course, the preparation phase will take a while.

Yes, because it will be translated and edited.

Will you sell them in İstanbul, too?

Yes. Something very sweet happened: A new bookstore, namely Minoa, has been opened in Pera, İstanbul. I went there. There was an English book section in Minoa, and of course I imagined with excitement, “Will Linden’s books be here a year later?” It was a good feeling. I enjoyed sharing that excitement with all my publisher friends, my colleagues. As an agent, I’ve shared a lot of excitement and experienced a lot of pride and happiness. I am grateful for these twenty years. And we continue. By the way, Linden will show me another side of being an agent. I mean, we will buy some of the books in world languages, that is, we will buy not only English rights, but all translation rights. In this case, I will also be the person who will ensure the sale of those books to the world. In other words, all these years I have been working only for the rights of books written in Turkish. Now I will be working for different countries. This will open a new page in my agent life.

(The second part of the interview will be shared two weeks later.)

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