HomeREADERSArt & CultureTurkish Literature: Authors: Yaşar Kemal

Turkish Literature: Authors: Yaşar Kemal

Born: in Osmaniye, Turkey. October 19, 1923
Died: February 28, 2015
Novelist (b. 1923, Hermite (Gökçedam) village / Adana). Gökçedam, which was a village of the district of Kadirli, is now a village in the district of Osmaniye. Turkmen settled here in 1895 and Yaşar Kemal’s family came to this area in 1915.
Turkey’s greatest novelist, Yashar Kemal is an unsurpassed storyteller who brings to life a world of staggering violence and hallucinatory beauty. Kemal’s books delve deeply into the entrenched social and historical conflicts that scar the Middle East. At the same time scents and sounds, vistas of mountain and stream and field, rise up from the pages of his books with primitive force.Memed—introduced in Kemal’s legendary first novel, Memed, My Hawk, and a recurrent character in many of his books—is one of the few truly mythic figures of modern fiction, a desperado and sometime defender of the oppressed who is condemned to wander in the blood-soaked gray zone between justice and the law. In They Burn the Thistles, one of the finest of Kemal’s novels, Memed is on the run. Hunted by his enemies, wounded, at wit’s end, he has lost faith in himself and has retreated to ponder the vanity of human wishes. Only a chance encounter with an extraordinarily beautiful and powerful stallion, itself a hunted creature, serves to restore his determination and rouse him to action


COLLECTION: Ağıtlar I (Ballads I, under the name of Kemal Sadık Göğçeli, 1943), Gökyüzü Mavi Kaldı (The Sky Remained Blue, a selection of folklore, with Sabahattin Eyuboğlu, 1978), Ağıtlar (Ballads, 1992).

SHORT STORY: Sarı Sıcak (Yellow Heat, 1952), Teneke (Tinplate, a long story, 1955), Bütün Hikâyeler (Collected Short Stories, 1962).

NOVEL: İnce Memed I (Memed, My Hawk, 1955), Ortadirek (Middle Class, The Wind from the Plain: Volume I, 1955), Yer Demir Gök Bakır (Iron Earth, Copper Sky, The Wind from the Plain: Volume II, 1963), Üç Anadolu Efsanesi (Three Anatolian Legends, 1967), Ölmez Otu (The Undying Grass, The Wind from the Plain: Volume III, 1968), İnce Memed II (Memed, My Hawk II, 1969), Ağrıdağı Efsanesi (The Legend of Mount Ararat, 1970), Binboğalar Efsanesi (The Legend of the Thousand Bulls, 1971), Çakırcalı Efe (The Life Stories of the Famous Bandit Çakırcalı, 1972), Demirciler Çarşısı Cinayeti (Murder in the Blacksmith’s Market, The Lords of Akçasaz : Part I, 1973), Yusufçuk Yusuf (Yusuf, Little Yusuf, The Lords of Akçasaz : Volume II, 1975), Al Gözlüm Seyreyle Salih (The Saga of a Seagull, 1976), Yılanı Öldürseler (To Crush the Serpent, 1976), Kuşlar da Gitti (The Birds Have Also Gone: Long Stories, 1978), Deniz Küstü (The Sea Was Offended, 1978), Yağmurcuk Kuşu (The Rain Bird, Little Nobody : Volume I, 1980), Hüyükteki Nar Ağacı (The Pomegranate on the Knoll, 1982), İnce Memed III (Memed , My Hawk III, 1984), Kale Kapısı (The Castle Gates, Little Nobody: Volume II, 1985), İnce Memed IV (Memed, My Hawk IV, 1987), Kanın Sesi (The Voice of Blood, Little Nobody : Volume III, 1991), Karıncanın Su İçtiği – Bir Ada Hikâyesi 2 (Ant Drinking Water, An Island Story 2, 2002), Tanyeri Horozları – Bir Ada Hikâyesi 3 (Roosters of the Dawn, An Island Story 3, 2002).

INTERVIEW: Yanan Ormanlarda 50 Gün (Fifty Days in the Burning Forests, 1955), Çukurova Yana Yana (While Çukurova Burns, 1955), Peri Bacaları (The Fairy Chimneys, 1957), Bu Diyar Baştan Başa (Collected Interviews, 1971), Bir Bulut Kaynıyor (Collected Interviews, 1974), Allah’ın Askerleri (The Soldiers of God, 1978), Alain Bosquet ile Konuşmalar (Speeches with Alain Bosquet, translated by Altan Gökalp, 1992).

ESSAY: Taş Çatlasa (At Most, 1961), Baldaki Tuz (The Salt in the Honey, 1974), Ağacın Çürüğü (The Rotting Tree, 1980), Sarı Defterdekiler – Folklor Denemeleri (Contents of the Yellow Notebook, folkloric essays, ed. Alpay Kabacalı, 2002).

CHILDREN’S LITERATURE: Filler Sultanı ile Kırmızı Sakallı Topal Karınca (The Sultan of the Elephants and the Red-Bearded Crippled Ant, 1977).

“The human race that will be friend or foe, who can be friend or foe to the end, to the root, is extinct. Those who live like grass, who buy five and sell to him, can be friends, they are soaked to the bone, they can be enemies to the death.”
―  Yaşar Kemal, The  Demirciler Çarşısı Cinayeti

“You cannot be resurrected once without dying a thousand times in these mountains.”
―  Yaşar Kemal,  İnce Memed 4

“The birds are gone too,” said Mahmut.
We never spoke after that. The birds are gone too, and with the birds… What will happen, the birds are gone too.”
―  Yaşar Kemal,  Kuşlar da Gitti

“Man occupies not as much space as his body in the universe, but as much as his heart.”
―  Yasar Kemal

“Those good people got on those beautiful horses and left.”
―  Yaşar Kemal, The  Demirciler Çarşısı Cinayeti

“Look at me, son, the strength of the lie is not the weakness of the truth. The lie has formed an organization, the truth is alone. There is a tradition of lying, your truth needs to be recreated every day. Every day it has to bloom like a dawn flower. You will be defeated.”
―  Yasar Kemal

“I, myself, cannot leave this city. All my means have been cut off. But I can’t be happy in such a world either. I dream, I dream. I dream of a world with light, joy, flowers, where no one exploits anyone, where no one fears or suspects anyone, and where no one is hostile towards anyone. A world where no one grinds their teeth… I consider myself a man with a generous heart. This is enough for me, even this much makes me happy.”
―  Yasar Kemal

“Here it is next year, in the place of that copper-colored thorn, ugly apartments and villas will rise that you can’t look at without getting muddy. Creatures who have forgotten their humanity, who live on their streets only to show off to each other, to make money, money, only money, will show off. Cars will enter here, crushing people on the London asphalt at a distance of one hundred and fifty, two hundred kilometers… Maybe the birds will come here with a very deep, ancient instinct, on top of that great plane tree that will have been cut by then, on the sky, they will pause for a moment, look for something, try to remember something, concrete They will swarm over the heaps of houses, unable to find a place to rest, and go away like a distant grief.”
―  Yasar Kemal

“No matter how narrow the field of vision, the human imagination is wide. Even a person who has never been anywhere other than Değirmenoluk village has a wide imagination. It can extend beyond the stars. If it can’t find anywhere, it goes to the back of Kafdag. If he doesn’t, the place where he lives in his dreams becomes different. It becomes paradise. Now, right now dreams are raging under your sleep. In this joke, in this grim village of Değirmenoluk, changed worlds are living.”
―  Yasar Kemal,  Ince Memed

“Those who hide within themselves, do not see the tip of their noses. They hid, they were buried in their own darkness. Will they see the tiny, shiny, fluttering birds in the cage waiting to be rescued in front of the New Mosque, to escape and fly over that polluted Bosphorus? They are riding on each other’s backs, going to each other’s darkness, to the apocalypse.”
―  Yasar Kemal


“What do you think, my son Memed, do you think İnce Memed will end? Inside every person, there is a compulsive wolf, an İnce Memedlik, and a Köroğluluk wolf. Köroğlu left and İnce Memed came. As long as this wolf is in humankind, mankind will not be defeated no matter what. You are the wolf in mankind, whatever you are, wherever you go. If this wolf in human beings disappears, then humanity will cease to be humanity.”
―  Yaşar Kemal,  İnce Memed 3

“If we blunt the sense of justice in people, people will have no respect for people. When people have no trust or respect for people, humanity loses a lot at some point and life becomes ugly.”
―  Yaşar Kemal,  İnce Memed 3

“Those who crush each other in Taksim area, those who spit and blow their noses saying that it was right among so many people, those who rub their snot on tree trunks, those who have sick faces, those with soggy paints, those who have a thousand pieces of skin falling off their faces, those who do not smile, those who do not smile, like enemies, will eat each other. Those who look as if they are going to dig each other’s eyes, are afraid, ashamed, are these, those who are afraid, those who say, me, me, these? The birds are gone too… With the birds that are gone…”
―  Yaşar Kemal

“This is the world,” he said. “The water fills the ditch. People are born and die, the sun rises and sets. Trees grow and rot. The waters flow, the cloud clears. You kill the agha, the agha comes instead. You kill it again, it will come again.”
―  Yaşar Kemal,  İnce Memed 2

“Since that day, those who pass by the Küp Lake see Gülbahar sitting on the shore of the lake, with her long black hair flowing like light on her back, her head between her two hands, staring into the deep blue water. Every now and then, Ahmet appears in the waters of the lake, and Gülbahar opens his arms and walks towards Ahmet…..

The lake boils, Ahmet disappears. Gülbahar is wiped out and a small white bird comes and dips its wing into the deep blue of the water. And then the black shadow of a horse comes over the lake.

Every year, when the spring stops to flower, when the world is qualified, the shepherds of Mount Ararat come from all sides, throw their shutters on the copper soil of the lake and sit on it. They sit on the thousand-year-old soil of love. While their tanyers are shining, they pull their pipes from their waists and steal the anger and love of Mount Ararat. And as the day comes, a white bird comes…”
―  Yaşar Kemal, The  Ağrı Dağı Efsanesi

“Every age has its own way of mythmaking. Ancient Egypt had its myths, the Sumerians and the Assyrians, the Christians and the Muslims, the North and the South — the style of creating myths always varies. What myths are being created as a shelter even in the chaotic atmosphere of today! Until doomsday humanity will create these shelters. What else could people do when they come from one darkness and travel to another? And with so much deprivation? Man remains man so long as he dreams.”
―  Yashar Kemal

“Loving only horses and the sea is not a skill. You won’t be able to get enough of caressing the world.”
―  Yaşar Kemal,  Tanyeri Horozları

“Not resisting oppression is infidelity,” he said. “It is disbelief not to protect the sustenance of the child, the homeland of the father, and to leave it and fall into the hands of a foreign country. Not resisting oppression is being a partner in oppression. To be afraid, to be intimidated by fear is infidelity.”
―  Yaşar Kemal,  İnce Memed 2

“On the stairs… Like this until morning… I want to sleep, like this… I can’t sleep.”
―  Yaşar Kemal,  Allah’ın Askerleri

“We came from Khorasan, on horses… we have been through a lot. We did not touch women or children. We did not touch the loves and the hearts. We didn’t hurt their mother. This is our tradition.”
―  Yasar Kemal

“Lying is organized. Correct one. It wouldn’t be right if it wasn’t defeated.”
―  Yasar Kemal

“Which day did we see it was not evening?”
―  Yasar Kemal

“There is, of course there is, okay? This is humanity. It is layered, its strongest, most beautiful jewel is at the bottom, the more it peels off humanity, the more it peels off its shell, one layer, two, three, four, five layers, humanity gets brighter and more beautiful. The ugly is the top crust of humanity. The man who is a man constantly tries to peel off both his own shell and the shell of humanity. The more you rob, the brighter it gets, the more you rob…”
―  Yaşar Kemal, Kuşlar da Gitti


“The boy was shrunken with his hands in his bosom. The old man came and sat next to the child. The thick glow of the hearth cast strange shadows behind them. By looking at these shadows, the man could tell what was going through the boy’s head. And the old man stared at the shadows, which did not stay in one place for a long time, but shifted according to the winds.”
―  Yaşar Kemal,  İnce Memed

“Bandit means bed. Their beds are the life of the bandit. The bandit who reveals his bed does not live. This is your head bed. You will never set foot here again

Page: 32”
―  Yaşar Kemal,  Çakırcalı Efe

“A song is heard… It is different in the night, it is different in the daytime. If the child says it in a different way, if the woman says it… It will be different if the young say it, if the old say it… It is different if it is said on the mountain, it is different in the plain, forest, sea. It is always different. It is different in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, and in the evening.”
―  Yasar Kemal,  Ince Memed


“Look at my garden, where did I bring flowers, trees and bushes from where I didn’t plant them, isn’t this a corner of the garden of paradise? Who knows who will live in my beautiful house, who knows how they will break the doors and windows, how they will uproot the trees of the garden, how they will trample their flowers.”
―  Yaşar Kemal, The  Fırat suyu kan akıyor baksana

“Man is not a thinking animal, but an animal that writes letters.”
―  Yasar Kemal,  Teneke

“You are right. You’re right, Cabbar. But come ask me. Ask me inside. My heart is held by two hands, and my father often. I can’t. I can’t help but see the hat. If I don’t see it, I will die. I will die like this, I will die like this…”
―  Yaşar Kemal









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