Novelist (b. 15 September 1914, Ceyhan / Adana - d. 2 June 1970, Sofia / Bulgaria). His real name was Mehmet Raşit Öğütçü. He also used the pen names Hayrullah Güçlü, Orhan Raşit, Raşit Kemali, Reşat Kemal, Rüştü Ceyhun, Ülker Uysal and Yıldız Okur. He is the son of Abdulkadir Kemal, the deputy of Kastamonu at the time. His father fled to Syria after the Republican People’s Party he had established in Adana (1930) was closed, and Orhan Kemal had to quit elementary school to go with his father. He stayed in Syria for one year and when he returned to Turkey (1932), he worked as a laborer, weaver and secretary at cotton gin factories. While he was doing his military service, he was tried for praising another regime in another country and he was sentenced to five years in prison (1939). He was kept in several prisons in Kayseri, Adana and Bursa. When he was in prison in Bursa, he met Nazım Hikmet and this was a turning point in his life. He had various jobs after he was released. In 1950, he settled in İstanbul to earn his living by writing. He died in Bulgaria, where he had gone for medical treatment. His body was brought back to İstanbul and buried in Zincirlikuyu Graveyard.
He used the pen name Reşat Kemal, Raşit Kemali in his first poems in syllabic meter, which were published in the reviews Yedigün, Ses, Yürüyüş and Yeni Mecmua (1939-40); and used the name Orhan Reşit in his poems in free meter and first stories (Yeni Edebiyat, 1941). He used the name Orhan Kemal in his poems and stories after 1942 (in the review Yürüyüş). His later works were primarily published in reviews such as Varlık, Yığın, Gün, Genç Nesil, Yeni Ses, Yurt ve Dünya, etc. With his plain and absorbing narration without any concern for form and elaboration, he gained fame through his first novel Baba Evi (My Father’s House, 1949) and attracted a huge number of readers with his reflections on the environment in which he knew and lived. He collected the Sait Faik Short Story Award in 1958 with Kardeş Payı (A Fair Share) and in 1969 with Önce Ekmek (Bread First). Again, he collected the Turkish Language Society Short Story Award in 1969 with Önce Ekmek (Bread First). He was chosen as the best playwright of the year by the Ankara Art Lovers Association with his play 72. Koğuş (Ward 72) that was staged at the Ankara Art Theatre by Asaf Çiğiltepe in 1976. There has been an award given in his name since his death. Some of his works such as Hanımın Çiftliği (The Mistress’ Farm), El Kızı (The Foreigner’s Daughter), Bir Filiz Vardı (There was a Filiz) were filmed.
SHORT STORY: Ekmek Kavgası (Fight for Bread, 1949), Sarhoşlar (Drunkards, 1951), Çamaşırcının Kızı (The Laundress’ Daughter, 1952), 72. Koğuş (Ward 72, 1954), Grev (Strike, 1954), Arka Sokak (Back Street, 1956), Kardeş Payı (A Fair Share, 1957), Babil Kulesi (The Tower of Babel, 1957), Dünyada Harb Vardı (There Was War on Earth, 1963), İşsiz (Redundant, 1966), Önce Ekmek (Bread First, 1968), Küçükler ve Büyükler (The Little and the Great, 1971).
NOVEL: Baba Evi (My Father’s House, 1949), Avare Yıllar (Idle Years, 1959), Murtaza (Murtaza, 1952), Cemile (Cemile, 1952), Bereketli Topraklar Üzerinde (On Fertile Lands, 1954), Suçlu (Guilty, 1957), Devlet Kuşu (Windfall, 1958), Vukuat Var (There’s a Crime, 1959), Gâvurun Kızı (The Infidel’s Daughter, 1959), Küçücük (Very Little, 1969), Dünya Evi (Marriage, 1960), El Kızı (The Foreigner’s Daughter, 1960; filmed and broadcast in a television series, 1989), Hanımın Çiftliği (The Mistress’ Farm, 1961), Eskici ve Oğulları (The Junk Dealer and His Sons, 1962; later published with the title Eskici Dükkânı – The Junk Shop), Gurbet Kuşları (Birds of Foreign Lands, 1962), Sokakların Çocuğu (Kid of the Streets, 1963), Bir Filiz Vardı (There Was a Filiz, 1965), Müfettişler Müfettişi (Inspector of the Inspectors, 1966), Yalancı Dünya (False World, 1966), Evlerden Biri (One of the Houses, 1966), Arkadaş Islıkları (Friend’s Whistles, 1968), Sokaklarda Bir Kız (A Girl on the Streets, 1968), Üç Kağıtçı (Cheater, 1969), Kötü Yol (Evil Way, 1969), Kaçak (Fugitive, 1970), Tersine Dünya (Reversing World, 1986).
PLAY: İspinozlar (Snowbirds, staged 1964; published 1965, also staged with the title Yalova Kaymakamı – The Head Official of Yalova), 72. Koğuş (Ward 72) Bekçi Murtaza (Murtaza the Watchman) Eskici Dükkânı (The Junk Shop) and Kardeş Payı (A Fair Share) were adapted for the stage and performed at theatres in Ankara between the years 1967-71.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY- MEMOIR: Nazım Hikmet'le Üç Buçuk Yıl (Three and a Half Years With Nazım Hikmet, 1965), Senaryo Tekniği ve Senaryoculuğumuzla İlgili Notlar (Technique of Script Writing and Notes on Our Script Writing, 1963), İstanbul'dan Çizgiler (Lines from İstanbul, 1971).
JOURNAL-POETRY: Yazmak Doludizgin (Writing at Full Speed, journals, poems, 2002).