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
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
"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.
Istanbul Bilgi University
Department of History