In 1933, only 5 years after the replacement of the Arabic script with the Latin alphabet in the Turkish Republic (which itself had been founded a decade before atop the ruins of the Ottoman Empire) the translator, essayist, and poet Yaþar Nabi Nayır (1908-1981) whose parents had immigrated to the Turkish Republic from Skopje, Macedonia, launched Varlık (the monthly review of literature and art). At the time, 90 per cent of the 13.5 million citizens of the Republic was estimated to be “literally” illiterate.
This publication, which was to become a cornerstone of literary life in Turkey and a tradition in itself, has been in circulation ever since. Currently published in Istanbul by the second generation of the Nayır family under the direction of the editor-in-chief, Enver Ercan, the journal consists of about 80 pages plus a 24-page book review supplement, featuring essays and discussions of the current cover theme as well as poetry, stories, and reviews. Including library and individual subscriptions, net circulation fluctuates between 2500 and 3000 copies, within the highest range for independent cultural periodicals in Turkey.
Almost all of the prominent names of modern Turkish literati and intelligentsia, as well as many from world literature, have been introduced to Turkish readers for the first time in Varlık‘s pages, making a collection of the back issues a highly representative index to modern Turkish writing.
As of 2009, the entire archive has been digitalized and made available on line at www.pecya.com, an independent digital archive site, and is being updated monthly. Visitors can employ word-search tools as well as print out articles from among the 1200 plus issues to date. On the occasion of the journal’s 75th anniversary, an anthology of selected articles from Varlık has been published under the title “Selections from VARLIK – the magazine which created the new Turkish culture” (Varlık Yayınları, 2008, Istanbul).
The Yasar Nabi Award, established in 1990 to encourage and promote young poets and story writers, has served as the launching pad for many who in the meantime have established themselves in the Turkish literary scene. In 1946, Yasar Nabi started publishing fiction and non-fiction paperbacks, including many world classics as well as most of the significant Turkish authors. Today, the bibliography includes more than 2000 titles.