Orhan Kemal’s novels gain popularity in China

Orhan Kemal’s novels gain popularity in China

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Orhan Kemal’s novels gain popularity in China

‘One of the Houses’ is one of the recent novels by Orhan Kemal, which have been adapted for the screen in Turkey.

A novel by Orhan Kemal, one of the masters of Turkish literature, has been translated into Chinese and published in China. “Bereketli Topraklar Üzerinde” (On Fertile Lands) has been translated into Chinese by Yongmin Xia.

Although the novel was published only recently, it has received good reactions from Chinese readers, Kemal’s son, Işık Öğütçü, told Anatolia News Agency.

Of the nine books published so far as part of the TEDA project, which aims to promote Turkish literature abroad, four are Kemal’s. “He is the flagship of Turkish literature, he makes the way. Other Turkish books will also be read in the countries where Orhan Kemal’s books are read. These books are our cultural ambassadors,” Öğütçü said.

“On Fertile Lands” is one of his father’s best-known and most-read novels, Öğütçü said. “Kemal tells the stories of ordinary people, and people like these live all around the world. That is why books featuring ordinary people will receive interest everywhere. Their happiness, unhappiness, daily problems, economic problems, efforts to have a better life, and dreams… They will be loved in China, because they speak to a wide mass of people.”

Kemal’s novels adapted for the screen

Kemal was one of the first authors to write about the working class, the alienation of immigrants in big cities, mass urbanization and the changing social structure of Turkey after World War II, according to Hürriyet Daily News’s Emrah Güler. He shed a realist light on and took a brutal look at poor people living with dignity. Kemal’s stories, novels and plays also lent a voice to working-class women for perhaps the first time in modern Turkish literature.

His trilogy of novels “Vukuat Var,” “Hanımın Çiftliği” (Lady’s Farm) and “Kaçak” (Fugitive), written between 1958 and 1970, were among the first pieces of Turkish literature to capture the attention of television producers in the recent Turkish TV series boom. In 2009, the trilogy was adapted into a popular series that took the audience-friendly title of the second book, “Lady’s Farm.” Starring acclaimed actors Özgü Namal and Mehmet Aslantuğ, the series ran for two seasons, changing the events of the original books somewhat as it went along.

Now, two more of Kemal’s novels, “Kötü Yol” (Going Astray) and “Evlerden Biri” (One of the Houses), have also been turned into TV series. Both are set in the 1960s, and both are similar in subject and tone, dealing mainly with problems stemming from migration to Istanbul.