A SUPPLEMENT TO
Translation Review Volume 14, No. 1 – 2008
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT DALLAS TURKISH:
Kemal, Orhan. The Idle Years: My Father’s House and The Idle
Years. Translation and preface by Cengiz Lugal. Foreword by
Orhan Pamuk. London.
Peter Owen. Chester Springs. Dufour Editions. 2008. 223 pp.
Paper $29.95. ISBN 978-0-7206-1310-0.
Orhan Kemal (1914–1970) is one of Turkey’s most famous
writers. During his lifetime, he published twenty-eight
novels and ten collections of short stories. While in high
school, his family was forced to emigrate to Syria and
Lebanon because of his father’s political activities.
Several years after returning to Turkey as an adult, Kemal
was sentenced to five years in prison, where he met another
celebrated Turkish writer, Nâzým Hikmet. Kemal began writing
in the 1950s, focusing often in his works on the struggles
of various groups just trying to survive from day to day:
farm workers; factory employees; migrant laborers; prison
inmates; children; and repressed and exploited women. The
two novels My Father’s House and The Idle Years are both
semi-autobiographical and also Kemal’s most famous writings
in his homeland. The narrator of these “diaries of a nobody”
— as Kemal called them — relates the events of his life in
the 1920s and 1930s. Born in Turkey, this young man and his
family leave in exile and move to Beirut, where he tries to
support his relatives by working odd jobs. At the same time,
he must contend with his father’s strict rules. Later, he
journeys to Istanbul in search of a job but, after failing
to find one, returns to his hometown in Turkey and attempts
there to make a life for himself. Cengiz Lugal also
translated Kemal’s The Prisoners (Anatolia, 2003) and Gemile