Novelist (b. 15
September 1914, Ceyhan / Adana - d. 2 June 1970, Sofia /
His real name was Mehmet Raşit Öğütçü. He also used the
pen names Hayrullah Güçlü, Orhan Raşit, Raşit Kemali,
Reşat Kemal, Rüştü Ceyhun, Ülker Uysal and Yıldız Okur.
He is the son of Abdulkadir Kemal, the deputy of
Kastamonu at the time.
His father fled to Syria after the Republican Peoples
Party he had established in Adana (1930) was closed, and
Orhan Kemal had to quit elementary school to go with his
He stayed in Syria for one year and when he returned to
Turkey (1932), he worked as a laborer, weaver and
secretary at cotton gin factories.
While he was doing his military service, he was tried
for praising another regime in another country and he
was sentenced to five years in prison (1939). He was
kept in several prisons in Kayseri, Adana and Bursa.
When he was in prison in Bursa, he met Nazım Hikmet and
this was a turning point in his life. He had various
jobs after he was released. In 1950, he settled in
İstanbul to earn his living by writing.
He died in Bulgaria, where he had gone for medical
treatment. His body was brought back to İstanbul and
buried in Zincirlikuyu Graveyard.
He used the pen name Reşat Kemal, Raşit Kemali in his
first poems in syllabic meter, which were published in
the reviews Yedigün, Ses, Yürüyüş and Yeni Mecmua
(1939-40); and used the name Orhan Reşit in his poems in
free meter and first stories (Yeni Edebiyat, 1941).
He used the name Orhan Kemal in his poems and stories
after 1942 (in the review Yürüyüş). His later works were
primarily published in reviews such as Varlık, Yığın,
Gün, Genç Nesil, Yeni Ses, Yurt ve Dünya, etc.
With his plain and absorbing narration without any
concern for form and elaboration, he gained fame through
his first novel Baba Evi (My Fathers House, 1949) and
attracted a huge number of readers with his reflections
on the environment in which he knew and lived.
He collected the Sait Faik Short Story Award in 1958
with Kardeş Payı (A Fair Share) and in 1969 with Önce
Ekmek (Bread First). Again, he collected the Turkish
Language Society Short Story Award in 1969 with Önce
Ekmek (Bread First).
He was chosen as the best playwright of the year by
the Ankara Art Lovers Association with his play 72.
Koğuş (Ward 72) that was staged at the Ankara Art
Theatre by Asaf Çiğiltepe in 1976. There has been an
award given in his name since his death. Some of his
works such as Hanımın Çiftliği (The Mistress Farm), El
Kızı (The Foreigners Daughter), Bir Filiz Vardı (There
was a Filiz) were filmed.
SHORT STORY: Ekmek Kavgası (Fight for Bread, 1949),
Sarhoşlar (Drunkards, 1951), Çamaşırcının Kızı (The
Laundress Daughter, 1952), 72. Koğuş (Ward 72, 1954),
Grev (Strike, 1954), Arka Sokak (Back Street, 1956),
Kardeş Payı (A Fair Share, 1957), Babil Kulesi (The
Tower of Babel, 1957), Dünyada Harb Vardı (There Was War
on Earth, 1963), İşsiz (Redundant, 1966), Önce Ekmek
(Bread First, 1968), Küçükler ve Büyükler (The Little
and the Great, 1971).
NOVEL: Baba Evi (My Fathers House, 1949), Avare
Yıllar (Idle Years, 1959), Murtaza (Murtaza, 1952),
Cemile (Cemile, 1952), Bereketli Topraklar Üzerinde (On
Fertile Lands, 1954), Suçlu (Guilty, 1957), Devlet Kuşu
(Windfall, 1958), Vukuat Var (Theres a Crime, 1959),
Gâvurun Kızı (The Infidels Daughter, 1959), Küçücük
(Very Little, 1969), Dünya Evi (Marriage, 1960), El Kızı
(The Foreigners Daughter, 1960; filmed and broadcast in
a television series, 1989), Hanımın Çiftliği (The
Mistress Farm, 1961), Eskici ve Oğulları (The Junk
Dealer and His Sons, 1962; later published with the
title Eskici Dükkânı The Junk Shop), Gurbet Kuşları
(Birds of Foreign Lands, 1962), Sokakların Çocuğu (Kid
of the Streets, 1963), Bir Filiz Vardı (There Was a
Filiz, 1965), Müfettişler Müfettişi (Inspector of the
Inspectors, 1966), Yalancı Dünya (False World, 1966),
Evlerden Biri (One of the Houses, 1966), Arkadaş
Islıkları (Friends Whistles, 1968), Sokaklarda Bir Kız
(A Girl on the Streets, 1968), Üç Kağıtçı (Cheater,
1969), Kötü Yol (Evil Way, 1969), Kaçak (Fugitive,
1970), Tersine Dünya (Reversing World, 1986).
PLAY: İspinozlar (Snowbirds, staged 1964;
published 1965, also staged with the title Yalova
Kaymakamı The Head Official of Yalova), 72. Koğuş
(Ward 72) Bekçi Murtaza (Murtaza the Watchman) Eskici
Dükkânı (The Junk Shop) and Kardeş Payı (A Fair Share)
were adapted for the stage and performed at theatres in
Ankara between the years 1967-71.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY- MEMOIR: Nazım Hikmet'le Üç Buçuk
Yıl (Three and a Half Years With Nazım Hikmet, 1965),
Senaryo Tekniği ve Senaryoculuğumuzla İlgili Notlar
(Technique of Script Writing and Notes on Our Script
Writing, 1963), İstanbul'dan Çizgiler (Lines from
JOURNAL-POETRY: Yazmak Doludizgin (Writing at
Full Speed, journals, poems, 2002).