Orhan Kemal

Orhan Kemal

Turkish writer
Date of Birth: 15.09.1914
Country: Turkey

Content:
  1. Biography of Orhan Kemal
  2. Works
  3. Writing Style and Contributions
  4. Legacy

Biography of Orhan Kemal



Orhan Kemal, a Turkish writer known for his realistic novels depicting the lives of the poor in Turkey, was born on September 15, 1914, in Ceyhan, Adana province. He was the son of parliament member and minister Abdulkadir Kemali Bey and Azime Hanım. Orhan Kemal's father was forced to flee to Syria, where Orhan stayed with him for a year before returning to his hometown of Ceyhan in 1932. Orhan worked as an unskilled laborer, weaver, and clerk in a cotton mill. He was conscripted into the army in 1938 and received a five-year prison sentence due to his political beliefs. Among the charges brought against him were "reading the works of Maxim Gorky and Nazim Hikmet" and "propaganda for foreign regimes and incitement to rebellion." While in prison in Bursa, Orhan became acquainted with Nazim Hikmet, who was his main literary inspiration at the time. After his release, Orhan returned to Adana, where he worked as a laborer. It was during this period that he began publishing his works. Initially, Orhan focused solely on poetry, which he later supplemented with short stories. In 1951, after the birth of his third child, Orhan moved to Istanbul with his family and worked odd jobs to make ends meet. That same year, he joined the non-profit organization Tuberculosis Foundation, where he obtained a job in one of its offices. While earning a modest salary, Orhan continued his writing career. He was arrested again in 1966 for "forming a communist propaganda cell," but was released two months later when it became clear that the charges against him were baseless. Orhan Kemal passed away on June 2, 1970, in Sofia, Bulgaria, due to intracranial hemorrhage that occurred during his visit to the country upon the invitation of the Bulgarian Union of Writers. He was buried in the Zindan Cemetery in Istanbul.

Orhan Kemal

Works

Orhan Kemal's stories and novels generally revolve around the lives of ordinary workers striving to maintain their dignity amidst poverty and constant hardships. His first poem was published in the magazine "Yedigün" in 1939, under the pseudonym Raşit Kemal. After meeting Nazim Hikmet, the founder of Turkish revolutionary poetry, the writer began publishing under the name Orhan Raşit. The encounter with Hikmet prompted Orhan to try his hand not only at taming rhymes but also at taming prose. His first short story, "Bir Yılbaşı Macerası" ("A New Year's Adventure"), was released in 1941. Orhan Kemal adopted the pseudonym Orhan Kemal in 1943 when his poems and stories began appearing in the magazine "Yürüyüş." Through his short stories, Orhan Kemal made a name for himself in the literary magazine "Varlık" in 1944. His first collection of short stories, "Ekmek Kavgası" ("The Bread Fight"), and his first novel, "Baba Evi" ("The Father's House"), were published in 1949. In his early works, Orhan Kemal used characters from immigrant quarters in Adana to depict the social structure, worker-employer relationships, and the daily hardships of the common people in industrialized Turkey.

Orhan Kemal

Writing Style and Contributions

In his works, Orhan Kemal aimed to demonstrate an optimistic view of life through the stories of his characters. He never shied away from simplicity in his writing, which allowed him to become one of the most skilled Turkish authors of short stories and novels. Orhan also wrote screenplays for films and plays, including the play "İspinozlar" ("The Finches") and the screenplay for the comedy series "Kardeş Payı" ("Equal Share"). His novels, such as "Murtaza" and "Eskici Dükkanı" ("The Second-Hand Shop"), served as the basis for television and film adaptations. His play about life in prison in the 1940s, "72. Koğuş" ("72nd Cell"), was used twice as the basis for feature films. The second adaptation in 2011, directed by Murat Saraçoğlu, starred renowned Turkish actors Hülya Avşar and Yavuz Bingöl. Furthermore, Orhan Kemal wrote the novel "Hanımın Çiftliği" ("The Lady's Farm"), which was used as the inspiration for one of the most famous Turkish soap operas, "Güzel Köylü" ("The Beautiful Villager"), from 2009 to 2011.

Orhan Kemal

Legacy

Orhan Kemal's modest apartment in Cihangir, Istanbul, is now home to a museum and library dedicated to him. After his death, the Orhan Kemal Novel Prize was established in 1972. The 100th anniversary of Orhan Kemal's birth was celebrated in 2014.

© BIOGRAPHS