Yasar Kemal dead: Ground-breaking Marxist Turkish author and activist dies

The Kurdish writer was 92 years old

Helen Nianias
Sunday 01 March 2015 11:43
The pioneering author Yasar Kemal died at the age of 92
The pioneering author Yasar Kemal died at the age of 92

Yasar Kemal, the first Turkish writer to be nominated for the Nobel prize for literature has died aged 92.

The author of shortlisted work Memed, My Hawk died in an Istanbul hospital of organ failure on Friday night.

Kemal promoted Marxist ideologies in his early work and claims that the first two novels that he wrote were seized by the Turkish government.

Throughout his life, his work focussed on social issues, and Memed, My Hawk was about feudal relations in Turkey in the Fifties.

One of Kemal's jobs as a young man was to protect river water belonging to wealthy farmers from being irrigated by other people, but he instead helped poor locals to steal it at night.

Kemal knew struggle, too. He wrote Memed while enduring incredible hardship. "It was one of the coldest Istanbul winters ever," he said. "I had no money to put wood in the stove."

"Yet, I just pretended that the fire was going strong; I covered myself in a ripped blanket, and typed away on an old typewriter that was missing many keys. That's how I wrote the Memed, and this novel is the best memory I kept from that house I could not pay the rent to."

In 1995, Kemal was handed a 20-month suspended jail sentence. He was prosecuted on charges of separatist propaganda for supporting Kurdish activists.

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