Virtual Event: Maureen Freely, Aysegül Savas, and Merve Emre discuss 'Cold Nights of Childhood' by Tezer Özlü

The Bell Jar meets Good Morning, Midnight, by one of Turkey’s most beloved writers.

Third Place Books, Community Bookstore, and the Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith are pleased to welcome critic Merve Emre, author Aysegül Savas, and translator Maureen Freely for a panel discussion of Cold Nights of Childhood by Tezer Özlü. 

Originally published in 1980, six years before her death at 43, Cold Nights of Childhood cemented Tezer Özlü’s status as one of Turkey’s most beloved writers. A classic that deserves to stand alongside The Bell Jar and Jean Rhys's Good Morning, MidnightCold Nights of Childhood is a powerfully vivid, disorienting, and bittersweet novel about the determined embrace of life in all its complexity and confusion, translated into English here for the first time by Maureen Freely, with an introduction by Aysegül Savas.

This event will be broadcast live on Zoom at 12pm PDT / 3pm EDT. Registering will provide you with a unique access link in an email. During the event, you can ask questions using the Q&A feature, or chat with fellow attendees. A recording of the event will be made available and emailed to all who register.

This author talk is free! You can sustain our author series by purchasing a copy of the featured book.


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About Cold Nights of Childhood. . .

“A profoundly moving account of desperation, exhilaration, and endurance.”—Kirkus Review

The Bell Jar meets Good Morning, Midnight, by one of Turkey’s most beloved writers.

The narrator of Tezer Özlü’s novel is between lovers. She is in and out of psychiatric wards, where she is forced to undergo electroshock treatments. She is between Berlin and Paris. She returns to Istanbul, in search of freedom, happiness, and new love. 

Set across the rambling orchards of a childhood in the Turkish provinces and the smoke-filled cafes of European capitals, Cold Nights of Childhood offers a sensual, unflinching portrayal of a woman’s sexual encounters and psychological struggle, staging a clash between unbridled feminine desire and repressive, patriarchal society.


Praise for Cold Nights of Childhood. . .

“In Özlü’s posthumous English-language debut, a young woman describes her 1950s childhood and her treatment for mental illness in her 20s. 'All I ever wanted was to be free to think and act beyond the tedious limits set by the petit bourgeoisie,' says the narrator... The edition includes a magnificent introduction from Ayşegül Savaş, who puts Özlü (1943–1986) in a lineage with Italo Svevo and Franz Kafka and praises her frank approach to sexuality as 'neither sensational nor metaphorical.'”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“A profoundly moving account of desperation, exhilaration, and endurance.”
Kirkus Reviews

“It’s uncanny how clearly Özlü speaks of a different time yet, simultaneously, of this moment.”
The Financial Times

Maureen Freely grew up in Istanbul and now lives in England. The author of seven novels, and formerly the President and Chair of English PEN, she has translated many Turkish classics as well as Orhan Pamuk. She teaches at the University of Warwick.

Merve Emre is the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing and Criticism at Wesleyan University and the Director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing and Criticism. Her books include Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar AmericaThe Personality Brokers (selected as one of the best books of 2018 by the New York TimesThe EconomistNPR, and The Spectator), The Ferrante Letters (winner of the 2021 PROSE award for literature), and The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway. She has been awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize, the Robert B. Silvers Prize for Literary Criticism, and the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing by the National Book Critics Circle. She is a contributing writer at The New Yorker

Ayşegül Savaş is the author of the novels Walking on the Ceiling and White on White. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Granta, The Guardian, among others. She lives in Paris.

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