Yasar Kemal: the hero of Turkish literature

All my life, my only dream was to write a little bit more, a little bit better.

                                                                                                                                Yasar Kemal

Acclaimed as one of the greatest   writers in Turkish,  has died in Istanbul  aged 92. He was the first Turkish writer nominated for the Nobel prize for literature. His works often chronicled the lives of the downtrodden, and have been translated in to 40 languages.

yasar-kemal 2

In his stories and novels, he tells of the Tauruses, the residents of the plains of Çukurova who fight for survival, the harsh landscape, and power battles between the Ağas (feudal masters / lords), which caused the villagers to suffer. Yaşar Kemal has taken the suffering and the work of these people as his main source for inspiration in his writing. He has also used the legends and stories of Anatolia extensively as the basis of his works. As a novelist he has long been a staunch defender of local identity, sceptical of imitative tendencies at the heart of Turkish westernisation. “Our intellectuals fall over themselves to copy the west, but they know nothing about Anatolia, they look down on Anatolia,” he says. “Look at Turkey’s best-known poet Nazim Hikmet, though – it was the Anatolian people that enabled him to write his masterpieces.”

A number of his works are available in English

Memed, my Hawk

They burn the thistles

Iron earth copper sky

Ince Memed I

The legend of the thousand bulls

The undying grass

The legend of mount Ararat


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