Kemal, Yasar

Kemal, Yaşar or Yashar,

1923–2015, Turkish novelist, b. Kemal Sadik Gögçeli. His rural childhood was marked by poverty and trauma; at a mosque at age five he witnessed his father's murder and was blinded in one eye. Dropping out of secondary school, Kemal worked at various menial jobs, and, after settling in İstanbul, became (1951–63) a newspaper reporter and columnist. His debut novel, Memed My Hawk (1955, tr. 1961, film 1987), the first of a series (1969–87), is the tale of a Robin Hood–like Anatolian outlaw and a chronicle of peasant-landowner struggles. It became one of Turkey's most celebrated novels and earned him an international reputation. Mingling realism with fantasy and folklore, Kemal was a prolific and highly political storyteller who concentrated on tales of rural Anatolia. His other novels include The Wind from the Plain (1960, tr. 1963), Iron Earth, Copper Sky (1963, tr. 1974), The Undying Grass (1968, tr. 1977), Seagull (1976, tr. 1981), and Salman the Solitary (1998). He was also known for his short stories and essays. A leftist of Kurdish ancestry, Kemal was arrested several times for political activities and in 1995 was jailed following publication, in Germany, of an article condemning Turkey's oppression of its minority Kurds.


See B. Tharaud, ed., Yaşar Kemal on His Life and Art (1999).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kemal, Yasar


(pen name of Kemal Sadik Gökçeli). Born 1922 in the village of Hemite-Gökçeli, Adana Vilayet. Turkish realist writer. One of the founders of the progressive literary-social weekly Ant (1967–71).

Kemal began publishing in 1939 as a poet. His novel Tin Can (1955; Russian translation, 1970) relates the struggle of a solitary intellectual against kulaks and the clergy. In the novel Mehmet My Hawk (vols. 1–2, 1955; Russian translation, 1959) he describes tragic events in an Anatolian village where a struggle is being waged against centuries-old social oppression. A concern with real life is also characteristic of other novels, including The Support (1960), Iron Earth, Copper Sky (1963), and Efe from Çakirc (1972).


Bütün hikâyeler. Istanbul, 1967.
Demirciler çarştst cinayeti. Istanbul, 1973.


Al’kaeva, L. Iz istorii turetskogo romana. Moscow, 1975.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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