Yasar Kemal

Yasar Kemall, who describes himself as a Turk of Kurdish descent, was born in Hemite (now Gokcedam), a hamlet in the province of Osmaniye in southern Turkey. His parents were from Van, who came into Cukurova during the First World War. Kemal had a difficult childhood because he lost his right eye due to a knife accident, when his father was slaughtering a sheep on Eid al-Adha, and had to witness as his father was stabbed to death by his adoptive son Yusuf while praying in a mosque when he was five years old. This traumatic experience left Kemal with a speech impediment, which lasted until he was twelve years old. At nine he started school in a neighboring village and continued his formal education in Kadirli, Osmaniye Province.Kemal was a locally noted bard before he started school, but was unappreciated by his widowed mother until he composed an elegy on the death of one of her eight brothers, all bandits. However, he forgot it and became interested in writing as a means to record his work when he questioned an itinerant peddler, who was doing his accounts. Ultimately, his village paid his way to university in Istanbul.He worked for a while for rich farmers, guarding their river water against other farmers’ unauthorized irrigation. However, instead he taught the poor farmers how to steal the water undetected, by taking it at night.Later he worked as a letter-writer, then as a journalist, and finally as a novelist. He said that the Turkish police took his first two novels.

yasarkemal.net
Comments