Asli Odman


I am an instructor at the Department of History of Istanbul Bilgi University and have been a keen reader of Orhan Kemal since my childhood. I make frequent references to his different books in my historiography, History of Turkey and urban history courses. It is not only the content that Orhan Kemal wrote on, but also his marvelous mix of expressing complex identities, conflicts and clashes in the everyday life of Turkey in a very lucid and simple style, the depiction of the folk culture without folklorizing and caricaturizing it makes him an indispensable reference in my courses. The micro narratives he constructs and the way he constructs them are universal microcosmos that has to say something for every reader of every ages.

So far I remember myself many times in a situation of answering to the question: 'What should we read? Suggest us a good book of a Turkish novelist in order to have the odeur of the profound Turkey and not only pre-packed and served topics about Turkey?'  of my friends , who deal in one way or the other with Turkish/Ottoman Studies, learning Turkish or simply interested in Turkey and have already read Orhan Pamuk and Yasar Kemal. Any everytime I had to answer: 'you should read Orhan Kemal's "My Father's House, "On Fertile Lands", "Stories from Istanbul" ',but unfortunately they are not translated to English. So work on your Turkish!

Orhan Kemal's ouvre is also a wonderful tool for learning Turkish, and this is much easier if there is the English text available as well.

I regret that not enough attention have been paid in the English-spoken world to Orhan Kemal so far. I am very much convinced that this is a great loss since his style, the stories he tells, the regions he deals with are insubstitutable by anything that is offered in the publishing market about Turkey. I strongly support the translation of his works to English.

Asli Odman

Istanbul Bilgi University
Department of History