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Yasar Kemal

AKA Kemal Sadik Gogceli

Born: 6-Oct-1923
Birthplace: Gökçedam, Turkey
Died: 28-Feb-2015
Location of death: İstanbul, Turkey
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Muslim
Race or Ethnicity: Middle Eastern
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Novelist

Nationality: Turkey
Executive summary: Mehmet, My Hawk

Military service: Turkish Military (1942-44)

Turkish novelist Yasar Kemal witnessed his father's murder in a mosque when he was five years old, and was blinded in one eye in the same incident. He developed a speech impediment in the aftermath, was unable to attend school until he was nine years of age, and had only two years of secondary-level education. He worked as a folk singer and minstrel when he was a young man, then held a series of menial jobs before he began writing for Istanbul's Cumhuriyet newspaper in his mid-20s, where he eventually became a bureau chief. His earliest poems were published in 1939, and he wrote occasional short stories while working at the newspaper.

In 1955 his first novel was published, Ince Memed (Mehmet, My Hawk), a popular allegory in which a young boy is forced into a life of crime, but becomes a fighter for justice and his lover's heart, and eventually rallies his people to stand up against the area's brigands. The struggle of the underprivileged and the revenge of the wronged has been a recurring theme in his many novels, including The Wind from the Plain, about the travails of an itinerant family. He is considered a perennial front-runner for the Nobel Prize. His wife, Thilda Kemal, has provided the English-language translation for many of his books.

In 1941 and again in 1950 he was arrested for his political activism, and both times acquitted. He served short prison terms in 1966 and 1971 for his political positions, including his connections to Marxist publications and membership in the Kurdish Workers' Party. In 1995 he was again charged with authoring "separatist propaganda", but amid international criticism spearheaded by the human rights group International PEN, his twenty-month prison sentence was suspended. In the English language, his name is sometimes listed as Yashar Kemal.

Father: Sadi Kemal
Mother: Nigar Kemal
Wife: Thilda Serrero (translator, m. 1952, d. 17-Jan-2001, one son)
Son: Raşit Göğçel
Wife: Ayşe Semiha Baban (m. 1-Aug-2002, until his death)

    High School: Kadirli Village Primary School, Kadirli, Turkey

    Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels 1997
    International PEN
    Kurdish Ancestry

Official Website:

Author of books:
Türksözü (1939, poems)
Teneke (Tin box) (1955)
Ince Memed (Mehmet My Hawk) (1955)
Ortadirek (The Wind from the Plain) (1960)
Yer Demir Gök Bakir (Iron Earth, Copper Sky) (1963)
Üç Anadolu Efsanesi (Three Anatolian Tales) (1967)
Ölmez Otu (The Undying Grass) (1968)
Ince Memed 2 (They Burn the Thistles) (1969)
Agridagi Efsanesi (The Legend of Ararat) (1970)
Binbogalar Efsanesi (The Legend of the Thousand Bulls) (1971)
Çakicali Efe (The Swashbuckler from Chakija) (1972)
Demirciler Çarsisi Cinayeti (Murder in the Ironsmiths Market) (1974)
Yusufcuk Yusuf (Turtledove Yusuf) (1975)
Algözüm Seyreyle Salih (The Saga of a Seagull) (1976)
Kuslar da Gitti (The Birds Have Also Gone) (1978)
Deniz Küstü (The Sea-Crossed Fisherman (1978)
Kuslar da Gitti (Alors les Oiseaux Sont Partis (1978)
Ince Memed 3 (1984)
Ince Memed 4 (1987)
Firat Suyu Kan Akiyor Baksana (Hey Look, Tigris River Flows Blood) (1998)
Salman the Solitary (1999)

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