Home Arts & Culture Yasar Kemal dies in Istanbul aged 91

Yasar Kemal dies in Istanbul aged 91

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Turkish literary icon Yasar Kemal has died on February 28 in an Istanbul hospital following respiratory and organ failure at the age of 91.

Yasar Kemal, born Kemal Sadik Gokceli, was Turkey’s first Nobel Prize for literature nominee and his work has been published in numerous languages.

Doctors said the author’s health deteriorated rapidly over the past week.

Yasar Kemal – an ethnic Kurd born in Osmaniye province, south-eastern Turkey – published his first book, Ballads, in 1943. His first short stories followed in 1950.


He won international fame for his first novel, Memed, My Hawk, published in 1955.Yasar Kemal dead at 91

The novel became a worldwide success and was published in 40 languages.

Nine of Yasar Kemal’s novels were made into films, and he is credited for re-establishing Turkish as a literary language.

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu said in a statement he was feeling “sorrow… at the loss of the great writer and artist”.

The prime minister singled out Yasar Kemal’s ability to “maintain his dissident attitude and express the truth without holding back at times when speaking the truth was hard”.

Yasar Kemal, who lived in Sweden for two years in the 1970s, won numerous prizes, including the Cino del Duca World Prize in 1982 and the Legion d’Honneur in 1984.

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