In Jail with Nazım Hikmet

In Jail with Nazım Hikmet

Translated by Bengisu Rona


9780863564116 June 2010 Paperback 224pp

About the Book

Bursa prison, mid-winter 1940. Two prisoners meet, both writers, both serving long sentences for allegedly inciting Turkish soldiers to mutiny. One is Turkey’s most famous poet and communist, Nazım Hikmet; the other a young, aspiring poet, Orhan Kemal, who now shares a cell with the man whose work he has long admired.

In this prison memoir, Orhan Kemal reminisces on the time he shared with the remarkable poet and describes how Nazım inspired him to become one of Turkey’s most popular and successful novelists.

A fascinating account of one of the most poignant friendships in Turkish letters, this volume includes Orhan Kemal’s diary entries and Nazım’s letters to him after Orhan’s release from prison in 1943.

About the Author

Orhan Kemal (1914–1970) was one of Turkey’s best-loved novelists. He served a prison sentence from 1938 to 1943. From 1951 he made his living entirely by writing novels – often with radical, anti-authoritarian content. His prison memoir, Nazım Hikmet’le Üç Buçuk Yıl (Three and a Half Years with Nazım Hikmet) was first published in Turkey in 1965.

About the Translator

Bengisu Rona is Reader in Turkish at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.


‘A jewel of a memoir … beautifully translated.’
Maureen Freely

‘Moving and remarkable … Kemal’s prison memoir is a debt of gratitude to the great man of Turkish letters, the poet Nazım Hikmet.’
Today’s Zaman