HurriyetDailyNews.com - Culture  - 6 Jun 2011


Turkey commemorates Orhan Kemal 41 yrs after his death


Orhan Kemal, acclaimed Turkish novel writer, has been commemorated on the 41st anniversary of his death. The commemoration ceremony took place in the Orhan Kemal Culture Center with the participation of Doğan Hızlan, Hürriyet daily columnist and writer and İnci Aral, Turkish literature contemporary writer


Turkey’s acclaimed writer Orhan Kemal was commemorated on the 41st anniversary of his death last week, with authors and critics praising his work and contributions to society during a ceremony at the Orhan Kemal Culture Center in Istanbul’s central Beyoğlu district.

Doğan Hızlan, Hürriyet Daily columnist and writer, said at the ceremony, “Orhan Kemal was a writer of tolerance.”

Kemal never used hate speech even when he was writing about the people who manipulated the perception of reality in Turkey, according to Hızlan.

Kemal has long been known for his fiction based on realism that reflects the poor people’s lifestyle in Turkey. His stories and novels generally depict the lives of ordinary working people trying to hold on to their dignity in conditions of poverty or deprivation.

İnci Aral, a Turkish contemporary literature writer, said Kemal’s stories are still very valuable for Turkish readers, as the writer mainly focused on immigration and the family structure after the 1950s. Speaking during the ceremony, Aral said, “The themes of goodness, evil, tolerance and support are the main focus of Orhan Kemal’s works.”

Kemal also wrote about the generation gap between young and old people in the same cities. “Orhan Kemal used a neat, detailed and simple language in his works,” said Aral.

Kemal’s style, realistic and plain, always gives details about people’s modern day lives, according to Aral.

The realistic dialog also adds a certain fluidity to his novels. “That’s why all the Kemal’s works are adapted to cinema and theater,” said Aral, noting that Kemal is not an impartial, superficial or shallow writer. Kemal always tried to understand the problems of society and depict them universally in his works, he said.

As a writer, Kemal reflected Turkish society and people’s lives, said Aral. “The controversies within society are the main features that feed the plot in his novels.”

Kemal was also imprisoned during Turkey’s single party era. However he was never tired of reflecting the reality of the society and politics.

Aral said: “Today, it is different, but we still witness the same problems in society, such as corruption and unemployment. This makes us question ourselves:  ‘Do we need new Orhan Kemals in Turkey?’”

Kemal Award in the literary world

Columnist Hızlan also mentioned this year’s Orhan Kemal Award-winning author Kamuran Şipal.

Noting that Şipal has not been mentioned much in the media, Hızlan said: “Şipal is not a writer who likes to be in the middle of the media. He prefers to be silent.

“I understand Şipal’s silence, but we should know more about him. Critics should mention works of Şipal more,” he said.

Hızlan said it was critics’ duty to write about Şipal, “and they have failed,” he said.

“Writers who deal with the real literary pieces cannot enter the lists of bestsellers, however, I do not accept an approach such as, ‘Bestselling books are good and less selling books are bad.’ That’s why I think Şipal should be mentioned more by critics and the media,” he said.

Şipal’s award-winning book, “You are my secret, you are my confident,” is not a book that can be read without paying close attention to the text, according to Hızlan. “If people would be patient with a writer and discover them, then some writers can add different meanings to readers’ lives. However, people do not have enough patience to discover an author.”

Şipal’s stories have peculiar features and those stories can teach literary rules and criteria to the readers, according to Hızlan.