Çiler İlhan est née en 1972, elle a fait des études de relations internationales et de sciences politiques à l’Université Bosphorus et ensuite de gestion hôtelière à la Glion Hotel School en Suisse. Elle a travaillé dans les domaines de la gestion hôtelière, des communications et de l’édition, en tant qu’écrivain indépendante (Bogazici, Time Out Istanbul etc) et éditrice (Chat, Travel + Leisure). Elle vit à Istanbul et est actuellement en charge des relations publiques au Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel à Istanbul.
En 1993, elle a reçu le « Notable Short Story Award/ Yaşar Nabi Youth Awards » pour une de ses nouvelles. Ce prix a été établi en hommage à Yasar Nabi, un grand écrivain et éditeur. Les récits, essais, critiques littéraires, articles de voyage et traductions de Ciler İlhan ont été publiés dans divers magazines et suppléments de journaux. Son premier livre, Rüya Tacirleri Odası (« La chambre des marchands de sable », Artemis, avril 2006), un recueil de nouvelles, a été suivi de Sürgün (Everest, mars 2010 ; L’Exil, Éditions Galaade, 2016, pour la traduction française), nommé au Prix de littérature de l’Union européenne en 2011. Également sélectionné pour le Prix du livre Lorientales 2017, Sürgün a été publié dans 27 pays dont le Royaume-Uni, la France, l’Italie et les Pays-Bas. Membre de la communauté internationale d’écrivains, PEN International (centres turc et hollandais), elle a contribué à 13 anthologies nationales et internationales, et travaille actuellement sur son roman.
Translated from Turkish by Ayşegül Toroser Ateş & Nuri Ateş
I’m Khan. I must admit it’s an ironic name for someone whose life was nearly taken in his mother’s womb.
Here is what happened: Apparently my mother and father were members of the Gene Purging Programme. Under the programme, my gene tests were carried out as soon as it was understood that I had been conceived. The device did not give out a signal. Everyone was happy: “Your fifth seed is pure, there, you may give birth.” But I fooled you, there! I did.
The pregnancy passed unperturbed; I did it on purpose. I didn’t make the slightest noise in there so that I wouldn’t cause any suspicion… I caused my mother neither a single bout of nausea nor a single sleepless hour… In fact, I didn’t even grow properly so that she would be totally comfortable. Oh, how happy my mother was, how happy everyone was… Well, a pure gene. These pure genes are something, good thing we joined this programme. Look at Ayşe, poor woman, how flatulent she is.
I waited. To tell you the truth, I waited quite a long time; I waited for quite a long time, at least… I thought that if I waited for nine months I would be sure to get out no matter what. After all, by then I was officially considered a human being! By the end of the ninth month my hands were slightly overgrown, and I was tired of making them into fists so that my mother’s belly would not swell too much; I loosened them a little bit. Not altogether, mind you, just a little bit, just to get a little bit comfortable. If only I hadn’t done that! My mother, whose pregnancy was passing so easily, as if she were a princess, having felt the slightest discomfort in her belly ran off to the doctor, ordering my father over the phone to “Come quickly”. The white-shirts, they love pontificating on such matters, they can’t have enough, they got together at once. That a baby with purged genes should cause discomfort! Impossible! The white-shirts got suspicious. No, they said, no. There is something wrong here. That famous device was brought in straight away, the belly was listened to, glances were exchanged secretly, words were exchanged openly: There has been a terrible mistake. A one-in-a-million kind of thing. You must have understood by the fact that the device gave out a signal; your baby’s genes are not pure!
My mother was furious, with that huge belly of hers! How could such a thing happen! I spent a bagful of money for this programme!
We are very sorry, madam, you will get a refund immediately.