Yasar Kemal, one of Turkey’s best-known writers, has died at the age of 92. He passed away in hospital in Istanbul following respiratory and organ failure.
Kemal’s most celebrated work was the book ‘Memed, My Hawk’, published in 1955, a tale of a bandit hero who takes revenge on a cruel overlord.
His works often chronicled the lives of the downtrodden, and have been translated in to 40 languages. He was the country’s first writer to be nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Kemal was an ethnic Kurd. He was born in southeastern Turkey just weeks before the modern republic was founded after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
His birthplace, on the fertile Cukurova plain, was often the setting for his stories. He once said that ‘no writer can be a great novelist without their own Cukurova’.
He was five years old when he witnessed his father’s death at the hands of an orphan the family had adopted, and he drew on the experience for his novel ‘Salman the Solitary’.
He was given a suspended sentence in 1995 on charges related to his support for Kurdish dissidents.
He finished his final novel in 2012.