THE POSSIBILITY TO PUBLISH THE BOOKS OF TURKISH AUTHOR ORHAN KEMAL
I am a dissertator in the Department of History at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison. My area of interest is the Middle East, with a
specific accent on the histories of the Ottoman empire and modern Turkey,
my home country. I published two books and a number of other scholarly
works (articles, book chapters, translations, book reviews...) and
occasionally taught courses on the Middle East, Islam and Central Asia.
Recently, it has been brought to my attention that some publishing
houses are interested in publishing the books by the Turkish literary
giant Orhan Kemal.
For some historical reasons (the lack of a colonial past, the absence of
a bilingual diaspora community, et cetera), Turkish literature written
in a pretty common language in the Middle East, the Balkans and to some
extent Central Asia is unfortunately not even close to the place that it
deserves in major Western languages in terms of translation. Orhan Kemal
was definitely one of the best representatives of this literary
tradition, which largely remained obscure to the Western audiences up
until recent times. With the quality of his writings, the impact of his
books lasting for generations and his Weltanschauung, he is only
comparable to the great names of Turkish literary circles (some, also
well-known in the West) such as the poet Nazim Hikmet Ran, humorist Aziz
Nesin, novelist Yasar Kemal and recently Orhan Pamuk. Indeed, Nazim
Hikmet was a father figure for him and Nesin and Kemal lifelong friends.
Unfortunately, Hikmet and Nesin passed away many years ago, but I guess
Yasar Kemal, a close friend of Orhan Kemal for decades, will support
what I am saying regarding Orhan Kemal's literary skills, if contacted.
I firmly believe that professors in the fields of Near and Middle
Eastern Studies can work on these books, because the themes of Orhan
Kemal do not solely pertain to Turkey. As a matter of fact, his favorite
themes such as the hard conditions of the urban and rural working
classes, seeds of a new social stratification brought by the
modernization process, alienations, frustrations, but always strong
hopes of the common man do reflect the daily realities of the Middle
East in particular and the non-Western world in general. Furthermore,
Orhan Kemal is a product of the Ottoman geography including the Middle
East, present-day Turkey, the Balkans and even North Africa partially (for
instance, the author lived in Syria and Lebanon during his youth),
therefore some of his works can be attractive to the students of these
regions, as well as their inhabitants.
University of Wisconsin- Madison, Department of History
Istanbul Technical University, Department Humanities and Social Sciences