Avesta Publisher was founded by Songül Duraker, Rûken Bagdu and Abdullah Keskin in Istanbul towards the end of 1995. Avesta started its long and groundbreaking journey with the publication of four Kurdish literary books in line with its motto ‘In Search of Missing Cultures’. Named after an important sacred text emerged in these lands, Avesta took special interest in risky subjects long neglected and besmirched, and consequently published researches on communities such as Assyrians, Armenians, Yazidis, Azeris, Persians, Arabs, and Kurds in particular.
With the objective of establihing itself as a multicultural and multilingual publishing house, Avesta managed to publish over 700 books across 50 series which are mostly in Kurdish and Turkish, as well as a number of them in English and French. Avesta has got many works translated from as much as 20 languages both western and non-western such as Russian, Persian, Arabic and Galician into Kurdish and Turkish. Modern middle eastern literature was featured in the series of ‘Eastern Wind’, alongside nearly 30 works by Kurdish female authors in the collection of ‘Shahmaran’.
Under the series of ‘Mesopotamian Culture’ works related to threatened indigenous and cultural groups along with heterodox sects such as Assyrians, Keldanis, Nasturians, Armenians, Yazidis, Alawites, Yarsanis, Mihelmis, Zoroastrians were published to help those vulnerable communities become more visible. Works of a great number of Kurdish authors, ancient and contemporary, from different parts of the country, have been released under the titles of ‘Modern Kurdish Literature’ and ‘Classical Kurdish Literature’. Many of those authors, the leading figures of Kurdish cultural and literary scene, among whom we can especially name Mehmed Uzun, Cîgerxwîn, Celadet Bedirkhan, Bakhtiyar Ali, have also been translated into foreign languages. Besides, Avesta published first books by dozens of emerging writers. Old significant works about Kurdish culture and history were collected under the series of ‘Kurdology’, while under ‘Kurdish Studies’ modern academic studies have been published in Kurdish and Turkish to contribute to our knowledge of today. A number of essential texts in the fields of sociology and anthropology have come out so far in the series of ‘Social Sciences’, together with phenomenological studies in the series of ‘Metabole’ including translations of works by thinkers ranging from Heidegerr to Gadamer, some of which have become textbooks in certain universities.
In the period from 1997 to 2007 Avesta faced lawsuits in the State Security Courts for the publication of about twenty of its books, some of which were banned as a result. Some trials resulted in acquittal, in others Avesta was found guilty, and in most of them it was given suspended sentence. Avesta opened its booktore in Diyarbakır in 1999. It organized events for many writers such as Orhan Pamuk, Mehmed Uzun, Murathan Mungan, etc. Avesta bookstore also faced charges of ‘selling banned publications.’ In 2016, at the consequence of a sabotage on its warehouse in Sur / Diyarbakir, more than 3000 books published by Avesta were completely burnt or become unusable. Avesta had to shut down its bookstore in Diyarbakir in the same year.
During 2018 and 2019, as a result of decisions from different courts 14 books Avesta had published long ago and which were by no means political were banned and required to be withdrawn from sale.
Avesta is the best known Publisher according to the Kurdish Youth’s Approach to Mother Tongue research conducted by Rawest Reasearch in Diyarbakir, Mardin, Van and Urfa with young people aged 18-30 and which led to #DilYuvadır (Language is Home) campaign launched by Hak Initiative. It was awarded 2005 Jery Laber Award by Association of American Publishers, a member of International Publishers Association, which is given every year for the freedom to publish. Besides receiving Freedom of Thought Award granted by Turkish Publishers Association in 2019, Avesta was also nominated for Voltaire Award of World Publishers Association in 2020.
Avesta is based in Beyoglu, Istanbul.