Ömer Zülfü Livaneli, born in 1946, is a bestselling Turkish author and poet who is considered one of the most significant and influential authors and intellectuals of his time. His book have won numerous literary awards, both in his home country and abroad.
Although his novels are viewed as highly literary, Livaneli is considered the most selling contemporary author of Turkey today. The article A festival of musical contrasts, which appeared in the International New York Times (9.7.2014) refers to Zuflu Livaneli as a composer.
Livaneli is known for his novels that interweave diverse social and historical backgrounds, figures, and incidents, such as in ‘Bliss’ which won the Barnes & Noble's ‘Discovery of Great New Writers Award’ in 2006, and in his critically acclaimed ‘Serenade for Nadia’, ‘Leyla's House’, and ‘My Brother's Story’, which were all translated into 37 languages and won numerous Turkish and International literary awards, and were highly praised by prominent literary critics around the world. His novels have been turned into theatrical movies, stage plays, and operas.
Livaneli was imprisoned several times during the 1971 Turkish coup d'état because of his political views and had to leave Turkey in 1972 and went on exile. He lived in Stockholm, Paris, Athens, and New York where he met and collaborated with artists and intellectuals such as Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, James Baldwin, and Peter Ustinov among others. Livaneli returned to Turkey in 1984.
His works and cultural and political activities and contributions to world peace were recognized by UNESCO in 1995 when he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador to UNESCO -- a post he still holds today. He served a term in the Turkish Parliament as well as in the Council of Europe.
Livaneli is as accomplished as a writer as he is as a poet and a songwriter, cultural and political activist. Although he first became known for his contemporary music, Livaneli turned his focus to writing, in the last decades, when he realized that literature was closer to his heart. His first collection of short stories, 'A Child in Purgatory', published in 1978 was turned into a movie by Swedish and German TV.He is also a prominent social-democrat politician and was a member of the Turkish parliament for one term. Livaneli's novels have been turned into theatrical movies, stage plays, and operas.
Livaneli is known for his contemporary music, in much the same way as Bob Dylan and his contemporaries in the United States were in the 60's. His 1997 Ankara concert was attended by no less than 500 thousand people. His collaborations with Mikis Theodorakis of Greece have been noted as a gesture of bringing together the two countries. Livaneli has been a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador since 1996.
Livaneli has composed some three hundred songs, a rhapsody recorded by London Symphony Orchestra–, and a ballet. His compositions have reached cult status nationwide and have been performed by internationally renowned artists such as Joan Baez, Maria Farantouri, María del Mar Bonet, Udo Lindenberg, Haris Alexiou, Jocelyn B. Smith, and Kate Westbrook. He has also written five plays and thirty film soundtracks. Among these soundtracks are the soundtrack for "Yol" (The Path), directed by Yilmaz Güney and winner of the Golden Palm in Cannes Film Festival, "The Herd", directed by Yılmaz Güney and Zeki Ökten, and "Shirin's Wedding" by German director Helma Sanders-Brahms. His recordings have been published in the USA, Sweden, Germany, Holland and France, and he has given dozens of concerts throughout the world. He has produced albums and performed with Mikis Theodorakis and Maria Farantouri, and he has also collaborated with Manos Hatzidakis, Giora Feidman, Inti-Illimani and Ángel Parra. In 2010, he sang 'Mothers of The Disappeared' with Bono at U2's concert in Istanbul, Turkey, which was U2's first-ever concert in Istanbul. Livaneli has been distinguished with the awards Best Album of the Year (Greece), the Edison Award (Holland), and Best Album of the Year (Music Critics Guild of Germany), and the "Premio Luigi Tenco" Best Songwriter Award, San Remo, Italy, in 1999, among others. The Biggest thing he has done in Turkish music was having in Ankara Hippdome 500.000 people in a Concert in May,19,1997. Istanbul Konseri 1984 which made history to this day Livaneli has made his music great and always liked Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The albums he has done all of them are still good. Livaneli started playing music and saz in 1971. 1980s Livaneli had the best year of music and even playing Saz (Bağlama). Livaneli Has Concerts in Canada 2012, U.S. 2011, 2012. England 1996, 2012. Austrella 1980s 2014 and more parts of the world.
Apart from his remarkable career as an author and poet, Livaneli was highly influential in Turkish politics over the last thirty years. In the 2002 Turkish elections, Livaneli was elected to the Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (Grand National Assembly of Turkey) as a Deputy for Istanbul for the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (CHP). Livaneli resigned from the CHP in early 2005, however, in protest at "CHP's non-democratic and authoritarian system of politics",
During his political career in Ankara, Livaneli presented a legislative proposal for amending Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. The amendment proposed that the concept of "Turkishness" should be replaced with that of the "Turkish nation" which would put an emphasis on the concept of "nation" which, as formulated by the Republic, unites under its umbrella people of different origins. With this amendment, there would no more be a stress on the notion of Turkish race.
Besides this, in 2006 he presented a proposal to the National Assembly demanding that a commission be established in order to investigate the reasons for increasing violence and fanaticism among the youth; his proposal was accepted.
Following his resignation from the party membership, Livaneli continued in his position in the Grand National Assembly as an independent until the end of that term. He did not take part in the 2007 Turkish elections and appears politically inactive. He has since concentrated on his art and books.
Livaneli was a daily contributor as a columnist in the newspapers "Sabah", Vatan, and ""Milliyet".Two Turk MPs resign from their parties, highlighting tensions Zülfü Livaneli CHP'den istifa etti (Turkish)
Livaneli directed four feature films: Iron Earth, Copper Sky, Mist, Shahmaran and Veda. His film Iron Earth, Copper Sky was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. Veda that based on the life of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is the last film written and directed by Zülfü Livaneli.
One of the most acclaimed Turkish films of the decade – and one of the first narrative films to tackle the highly charged subject of honor killings – Bliss was originally adopted from Livaneli's best-seller novel. The film, reviewed by New York Times as a consistently gripping, visually intoxicating film and standing as a landmark of contemporary Turkish cinema."Festival de Cannes: Iron Earth, Copper Sky". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-07-23.