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Our guest on 14.12.2008

Hatice Akyün, Journalist and Author

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Hatice Akyün is a best-selling author and respected journalist. A German national of Turkish descent, she writes about the differences between Turkish and German culture with a sense of humour and a great deal of irony.

Hatice Akyün was born in 1969 in Akpinar Köyü. Along with her mother and an older sister, she moved to Duisburg in 1972, where her father, a farmer by profession, had taken a job as a miner. Ms. Akyün refers to herself as a woman with a German heart and a Turkish soul.

Hatice Akyün learned her German by watching TV. When she was a child in Duisburg, the family spoke Turkish at home. There were no Turkish TV channels available and no satellite dishes, and the only book at home was the Koran. Young Hatice loved to read, and she borrowed many books from the Library-on-Wheels that serviced the neighborhoods of Duisburg. Her favorites were books that depicted the reality of life in the west, such as "Hanni & Nanni".

After junior high school, Hatice Akyün trained as a legal clerk at Duisburg’s district court. She then finished her high school diploma and took of to New York, where she worked as an au pair for one year. She returned to Germany, where she began her studies in business administration at the Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf. She worked on the side as a freelance journalist at the local newsroom of the Westdeutschen Allgemein Zeitung (WAZ) newspaper. After some journalist training, she moved to Berlin in 2000, where she worked as the society reporter for "Max" magazine. Hatice Akyün has been working since 2003 as a freelance reporter and continues writing for periodicals such as "Spiegel" magazine.

In 2005, she published her semi-biographical novel, called "Einmal Hans mit scharfer Soße", which became a bestseller. She followed it up last year with the sequel "Ali zum Dessert". In it, she writes from the perspective of the mother of a one-year-old who is caught between two worlds filled with German girlfriends who don’t want to get pregnant, mother-baby preparation courses, early childhood musical training, child benefit payments, and a form of Turkish family communism. She writes with humor and irony about two happy and chaotic Turkish families experiencing their own form of German life.

She also reads fairy tales –in German and Turkish—in schools with a high percentage of foreign-born pupils. She does so because she believes that education is the key to integration, and Hatice Akyün does not want kids denied that opportunity.

She has a passion for shoes, something her parents never endulged. She owns over 100 pairs. The most beautiful 25 – 30 pairs are displayed in a glass cabinet in her living room.

Hatice Akyün is a modern, self confidant, young lady, who now lives with her husband and child in Hamburg but always has a suitcase in Berlin. She calls Germany ‘her country’ but has not let go of her Turkish soul.

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