Mike Hammer and Sickle


The year was 1950 and Kemal Tahir was fresh out of prison and broke. A general amnesty had cut short his sentence by three years, but all told he’d been behind bars for twelve. In 1938 he and several other writers had been charged and found guilty of passing on subversive materials—in this case books by leftist writer Sabahattin Ali—to naval officers including Tahir’s own brother.

Tahir was twenty-eight years old when he was imprisoned. He’d spent much of the previous six years working at a number of left-wing periodicals—Yedigün, Karikatür, and Tan—where he’d formed friendships with left-wing luminaries, like the poet Nazim Hikmet, and engaged in various literary squabbles. During this formative period, he’d published very little under his own name. Most of his spoofs and short stories were under pseudonyms such as “Ta-Ka.”[1]

During his incarceration, he was moved from prison to prison: Çankırı, Çorum, Kırşehir, and Malatya. Initially he was imprisoned alongside his mentor, Hikmet, but the two were eventually separated, forced to maintain contact solely via letters.[2] He spent much of his time reading and writing in his notebooks. In addition to Hikmet he also sent off letters to his wife—though jail put too much strain on the marriage and the two divorced two years into his sentence.

While in prison, he also began translating various books into Turkish and sending the results off to publishers in the hope of making extra cash. He also published a number of original adventure and detective novels under the pseudonym “Bedri Eser”; these were serialized in magazines he’d worked for as well as the newspaper Hurriyet, whose owner had been his “patron during the 1930s.”[3]

After his release, he began to piece his life together again. He remarried and found work with a publisher, Çağlayan, that specialized in dime-novels. Some of Çağlayan’s books were original, but a large number were translations of European and American bestsellers. The most successful of these were Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer books.

The series was wildly popular in Turkey. Hammer was a hard-drinking, hard-loving, no-nonsense private-eye who played by his own rules and didn’t care much for the niceties of the law—or to quote him from the first novel I, the Jury:

The dead can’t speak for themselves . . .How could Jack tell a jury what it was like to have his insides ripped out by a dumdum? Nobody in the box would know how it felt to be dying . . .dragging themselves across the floor . . .their insides filling up with blood . . .No damn it. A jury is cold and impartial like they’re supposed to be, while some snotty lawyer makes them pour tears as he tells how his client was insane at the moment . . .Swell. The law is fine. But this time I’m the law and I’m not going to be cold and impartial. I’m going to remember all those things.[4]

And that’s page one. Kemal Tahir’s translation—using the name “F.M. Ikinci”—sold over 100,000 in Turkey.

Tahir did not, however, speak English. In order to translate these works he was dependent on French translations published over the past several years and available in Turkey.[5] By 1954 he had translated four of Spillane’s six books. Among those he did not translate was One Lonely Night (1951) in which Mike Hammer takes on a Communist cell and “strangles the ringleader with his bare hands.”[6] One imagines Tahir might have hesitated to thrust such a work on the Turkish market. Competing publishing houses had no such hang-ups, however, and the book was translated by Ekicigil Publishers

All the publishing houses were confronted with a dilemma after 1952 when Spillane began a decade-long sabbatical from writing to focus on his work as a Jehovah’s Witness.[7] The solution Turkish publishers hit upon was to produce their own Mike Hammer novels. Many publishers—Ekicigil, for example—just released unacknowledged knock-offs. Çağlayan was different in that it produced a series entitled “Mike Hammer’s New Adventures” credited to F. M. Ikinci.[8]

Tahir wrote four Mike Hammer novels between 1954 and 1955. The first, I’ll Skin You Alive, followed Hammer’s attempts to prove a friend innocent of murder; in doing so, Hammer faced off against femme fatales and Corsican Mafiosi. Fairly standard stuff. The rather violent title was just a translation of I, the Jury’s French title—when Tahir translated that book, he’d stuck closer to the original name (i.e. “I’m the Law” )

Three more books followed—The Hour of Death, Black Nara, and Rough and Tumble. All sold well. Given that Tahir could not have understood the stylistics of the original English, he was not so much adapting the books to Turkish tastes as writing directly for Turkish tastes. His descriptions of places like New York lacked much in the way of specificity and served mainly as backgrounds for the action, which was moved along by dialogue as reminiscent of Turkish village slang as of hard-boiled New York detection.

The books also presented a Mike Hammer different from Spillane’s. Tahir’s Hammer was more reflective. He also became involved in situations that revealed the corruption of the political and capitalist system. One book—Black Nara—features a black protagonist and criticizes racism.[9] In this way Tahir worked his left-wing ideology into a right-wing framework.

And to be left-wing in Turkey was dangerous in the 1950s. In September 1955, two days of anti-Greek pogroms rocked Istanbul. In response to failed negotiations over Cyprus and a bomb attack against Turkish targets in Greece—later shown to be the work of Turkey’s own intelligence services—Turks poured into the streets, brandishing weapons that had been passed out to them in advance, targeting Greeks and their businesses.[10] In the aftermath of the riots, the government, claiming that “Communists” had been responsible for the violence, arrested forty-five “known” Communists including Aziz Nesin and Kemal Tahir. They were held for six months until the charges were dropped.

After leaving prison for this second time, Tahir wrote no more Mike Hammer novels. Within the next few years he did write a few more detective novels—for example 1957’s Hello Sam Krasmer—but the majority of his time was now devoted to the sort of novels he actually wanted to put his name on. Over the next eighteen years, until his death in 1973, he published fourteen books.

Tahir’s initial works were examples of “social realism,” attempts to show life as it was lived in contemporary Turkey. The first of these books, published in 1955, Silent Creek[11], tells the story of a young boy moving from his small village in the Çankırı region to the big city of Ankara in order to find work. The book is split between the city and the countryside, showing the hardships inherent in both. Çankırı prison had been Tahir’s home for several years and he drew on his encounters with locals in order to craft his dialogue. In subsequent novels Tahir returned to the characters from this book.

He also continued to focus on the region, but at different points in time: In his most famous book, Mother State, Tahir tried to capture events in the thirteenth century as Turkish warriors began to establish the Ottoman Empire.[12] Other works of his touched on prisons, the attempted assassination of Ataturk, and the anti-occupation resistance of the 1920s.[13] Once he was established as an author of ambitious fiction, Tahir stopped churning out translations and pulp fiction.

The following translation is from that first book, Silent Creek. As always, the errors and infelicities are mine[14]:

Silent Creek [Sağırdere, an Excerpt][15]
By Kemal Tahir

When they arrived in Ankara, Mustafa’s head was still ringing from the train ride. The ground on which he set foot swayed. They got off below one set of stairs, passed along a path lined with wooden boards, and approached another set of stairs. As they walked toward Ankara, Mustafa didn’t even look to his sides for fear that he would lose sight of his friends. “Come! Don’t be afraid of vanishing! Houses, roads, men, women, all do resemble each other—but that much?”

Mustafa shuddered thinking he would never come to Ankara alone given how difficult it was to identify any landmarks.

There was a picture of Kemal Pasa[16] on a horse, placed on top of a rock in the middle of the road.

He would have lost his friends there if Vahit hadn’t pulled his arm and said, “Walk, buddy!”

They stopped at of one of Bentdere’s inns[17].

The old men of the inn knew Hasan on sight, “Welcome Master Hasan. Where are you staying? Did you come quickly here?”

Ankara’s inns were made of stone, old: The small room they booked was made from wood-planks, which had never seen a washing. Dead bedbugs had been smashed all over the walls. The back yard couldn’t be seen through the glass of the two small windows, on account of the dust and dirt.

They spread out their quilts at the base of the wall, hung their bags at the bedsides.

Mustafa lay on his back, hands clasped behind his head. But until night he could neither sleep nor relax. Train noises screamed in his ears, the wood planks below him rattled with a ceaseless tick-tock.

At night, in the next room, someone played a saz[18] at great length. Vahit snored fitfully.

Mustafa woke up later in the morning than all the others. There was a bad taste in his mouth. Not seeing Hasan, he asked “Wrestler” Vahit who was in the process of eating some filo bread.

“I was also sleeping; maybe he went to find work . . .‘Don’t sneak off anywhere’ that means. Get up, get dressed, fill your belly. If he comes back soon, we shouldn’t make him wait.”

Mustafa quickly dressed. He put his bag between his legs, “Did you make yourself a durum?”

“Yeah . . .What did Binnaz put in your bag?”

“What did she put? . . . Bulgur, chickpeas, lentils, beans . . .butter . . .”

“Tonight we should make ourselves some bulgur!”

“You do it Wrestler . . .My bulgur meals are always uneatable! . . .”

“I’ll do it. You always say, ‘I don’t know how to do it.’ I’m getting bored of you.”

Mustafa smiled, “Where will Hasan look for work?”

“Here and there . . .He’ll go to the quarries and construction sites. He’ll go to the coffee shops where the masters hang out . . .”

Their bellies newly full, Hasan came. His face was sweating. He didn’t even enter the room, “Come! Let’s get going. We’re gonna work at the quarry. The pay is 50 kuruş a day!

As Mustafa left the inn, he spit in his hands and said, “Thank God!” They passed quickly down the streets and between neighborhoods; they walked until they were tired and sweating.

The area where the quarry was resembled the barren hillside across from the Sımıcak railway station. Other than a wooden hut with a shed, there was nothing in sight. Around the hut were diggings, shovels, wheelbarrows, and boxes of dynamite . . .In the shadow of the hut, a master mason chiseled away . . .

Until lunch, Mustafa took soil away from the quarry with a wheelbarrow.

Like all people from Yamören village, Mustafa had learned to work a wheelbarrow while laying the Sımıcak railway line. His long strong arms had allowed him to work it well. But a long time in the village unemployed had let him go to seed . . .

The quarry boss, Ali Bey[19], was a fat guy who always used a handkerchief to wipe sweat from his easily-forgettable, red face. From morning to night he watched over the laborers and journeymen himself, in between he joked and bickered. A man coming up from the quarry, loaded with rocks, slipped on some logs; the commands from the masters in the hut to go right and to go left made the work even more difficult. While taking a break to wipe off sweat, Mustafa said to Vahit, “Pushing a wheelbarrow is easier than earthwork, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, easy . . .”

“Well done Hasan! . . .He found us a good job . . .If the owner didn’t respect him, we’d have been given earthwork too.”

Vahit thought for a minute, “Look here! On Hakkı’s bridal night, you were about to stab Hasan on account of him violating her. But you didn’t. You said, ‘Hasan should be thankful’. . .Right?”

“Who said?” Mustafa turned to the shed, “Shut up! Hasan will hear, man.”

“He won’t hear? Hasan explained these things to me. In the village I said, ‘Mustafa will go far away with us!’ His face fell and he said, ‘It’ll be like this.’”

“Oh man! . . .Who told him?”

“Crippled Ismail, who else?”

“You said he was lying?”

“That’s what I said.”

“Fine . . .good. Look Wrestler! If God wills it, and it’s necessary that I go back to Yamören, then that Cripple’s other leg . . .I’m gonna . . .”

“Settle down. He does a good job of tattling, right? If you need to, you should break that pig’s head . . .”

He hadn’t made it plain to Vahit, but this talk had filled Mustafa quite misgivings. In order to catch the owner, Ali Bey’s, eye, he raced about, filling the wheelbarrow to the top, emptying it, and filling it again.

The morning of the third day, as they were setting off for work, a man entered the inn’s yard. This black-hatted, gold-toothed, average-built guy said something to Hasan. For a moment Hasan stood looking at the ground, thinking. Then he called out to Vahit, “Okay, you guys go. If there’s a question about me say, ‘I’m sick.’”

The next day, Hasan took his pay from the quarry and started working in Yenişehir alongside that gold-toothed guy.

On that following day, around midday, Mustafa was removing soil, racing his wheelbarrow around so that Ali Bey might take a moment’s notice of him. He was covered in sweat, his breath caught in his mouth. Though he didn’t give up, as he went, Mustafa grew more doubtful. Still he had filled the barrow with his hope and, while he was racing about, it’s wheel slipped in a rut left by a truck and the barrow turned over.

Mustafa, swearing between his teeth, was beginning to reload the wheelbarrow when Ali Bey came up beside him. As he returned to removing the soil, their eyes met. Mustafa smiled. Ali Bey made a gesture with his hands, “Hey, what’s your name?”

“Mustafa . . .”

“How many days have you been working here?”

“Four . . . We came here on Tuesday.”[20]

“Who brought you here?”

“Master Hasan.”

The guard standing behind Ali Bey confirmed, “Yes! . . .They came with Master Hasan, sir.”

“Who’s Master Hasan?”

“Master Hasan?”—Mustafa was shocked—“A master quarryman . . .You don’t know? In Yamören we call him ‘Teacher Hasan.’ We came Tuesday—there’s also Vahit the Wrestler. Tuesday, one, Wednesday, two, Thursday, three, today’s Friday . . .”

Ali Bey turned without listening and started to talk with the guard. The guard was a mountain of a guy; he looked like some Kurdish sheep-herder from İskilip. Hands clasped, he steadily nodded his head saying, “Yes. You’re right, sir.”

Ali Bey took money out of his waistcoat pocket and extended it to Mustafa. “Come, take it”—the small change in palm totaled 120 kuruş—“Here’s 120 kuruş . . .Okay? . . .Count it . . .”

“Are we buying a cigarette with it, Sir?”

“Hardly. You’re very small. Quarry work is tough; you can’t do it!”

Mustafa blinked his eyes, “Quarrying is hard?”—Mustafa’s throat had rapidly grown dry—“Please! I push the barrow good, sir . . .”

“No. The government forbids children from doing heavy work. An accident could happen to you and the responsibility would fall on us! . . .I’m giving you a daily salary of 30 kuruş. Now go, find yourself another job! . . .”

Mustafa looked at the guard’s face hoping for help. The asshole paid no attention nor seemed surprised by what was being done. A guy from Yamören had halted his cart and was watching from the sidelines. Mustafa hung his head, “We’re almost past our fifteenth year, Sir.” Ali Bey’s red boots were covered in dust. Mustafa leaned down and thought about cleaning these. Holding himself back, swallowing, he begged, “Upon my word! We’re almost finished with our fifteenth year! Don’t you look at our small size! In April we’ll be sixteen; just because our mustache hasn’t grown . . .We’re not young Sir! . . .”

“Be that as it may! A rock could fall on your foot. Moreover I don’t want to deal with you.”

The warehouse guard smiled, “ Right, sir! Come on, scram! . . .”

Mustafa took his jacket without letting anybody notice. He came down from the hillside, running as though he’d been dispatched to somewhere. Certain that he had left the quarry without being seen, he stopped and, hitting his knee with his hand, exclaimed, “Damn! The government made a ban? How is the government concerned with the quarry? What a lie!” He didn’t realize it, but he was smiling. Perhaps he had recalled the money inside his fist. “Our pay is around 30”—he slowly sulked. To be considered a child for another year made him furious. He gritted his teeth—“If we run into each other, I’ll stab that Ali Bey for his heartlessness!”

He decided to hide from his friends that he’d been fired from the job because of his youth.

He dragged his feet as he slowly walked, searching for the lie he would tell Hasan and Vahit. Not finding a good one, he grew angry. He knit his eyebrows and thrust his hands into his belt, “Whose to blame for this! I never wanted to work in the quarry! . . . They’re going to say, ‘You were stupid in the village, and you’re stupid here too’. . .”

A truck passed him, soldiers were singing a Turkish folksong inside. As he stared into the shadows, he realized that with the fading of the day’s light and the coming of the night’s darkness he could not find the way back to his inn. He stopped and looked back. “Oh man, where am I? Don’t also lose track of the quarry . . .” His back trembled with terror, he looked back and forth, for the first time feeling the terror of being all alone in the world. He couldn’t think about it anymore. He repeated, “There’s no god, but God,” to himself and walked quickly in the direction from which he heard the noises of the quarry. Believing he had not lost track of the quarry, he was able to collect himself a bit. He sat behind a blackberry bush a ways down the road. He started to wait for night. Initially he didn’t think of anything. Then he took out the bag of money Ali Bey had given him. He counted it with care. “This 240 kuruş is for the freight train . . .the remaining is ours . . .other than the freight money . . . we have 15 lira, 25 kuruş . . .but don’t count the 25 kuruş, man!”

He stuck the bag back in his belt. He took it out again and held it in his hand. He was afraid it would fall from his belt. He placed it under his shirt. Feeling the firmness of the money gave him confidence.

From far away he heard the squeak of cart wheels and the shouts of the workers as they turned over rocks.

The sun had sunk a bit when he remembered that he had a cigarette in his cap. Lacking a match, the cigarette—whose tobacco was half-spilled and whose paper was wet and wrinkled with sweat—wouldn’t light. For a time, he waited for a passerby whom he might ask for a light. Finally, with a look of defeat on his face, he angrily threw the half-cigarette on the ground.

A giant ant poked around at the tobacco. Other ants were carrying bits of straw. With a high voice he said, “I need to find a job . . . I can’t go back to the village . . .I must find work or die!”

When he’d been getting on the train, his big-brother Murat had said to him out of everyone’s earshot, “If you spend all your money . . .don’t write back to the village . . .this is coming from me: at the Sımıcak railway there a worker, Murat . . .if you talk to him . . .”

As he was thinking it over, he suddenly stood up, “Hasan played a trick on me. Hasan spoke to Ali Bey . . .he said I was doing bad!”[21]—he hit his knee with his hand—“I did bad, see? I fell into Hasan’s hands in the end! . . .I fell into the hands of his clan.” He’d told Crippled Ismail why he’d held back, why he hadn’t stabbed Hasan on Hakkı’s bridal night. Exclaiming, “Cripple Ismail you damn informer . . .You’re not getting away with this!” he adjusted his cap.

Thinking in this way was suffocating him. “Hasan knows everywhere in Ankara. He knows where work is. Shop-owners, bosses, he knows them all . . . he’s been a master quarryman for years . . .If it’s said, ‘This Mustafa won’t work’ . . .Well . . . God, I’ll die if they don’t give me work . . .Damn you Cripple, I owe you!”

He spit on the ground. With the darkness pressing down, he approached the quarry, hanging out in wait for the passing workers. He joined Vahit in a line of workers quickly heading to the city.

“Where were you man! I was calling and looking for you.”

“Well here I am Wrester! . . .”

Seeing Mustafa smiling so thoroughly, he was silent with confusion.

While Mustafa struggled to start a fire in the courtyard, Vahit sang a folk song and prepared the pan, oil, and bulgur. Fortunately, neither noticed the other’s work.

After eating, Mustafa waited for Hasan, using the excuse of dish washing to crouch in front of the courtyard door. Besides talking to Hasan about the situation, he had thought of no other remedy. Dipping the utensils in the washbasin and scrubbing them hard, he planned how he would broach the subject with Hasan.

Hasan came into light the lamps. Out of character, he smiled at Mustafa, “Washing, M’Lord?”

“Washing . . .” Mustafa got to his feet and blocked Hasan’s path. “Hasan, I need a word with you”—it shamed him to be making up a lie—“I need to say to you: Ali Bey fired me today.”

“He fired you from the job? Why?”

“I don’t know . . . ‘You’re small’ he said.”

“Good God! Did he give you your day’s wages?”

“He did . . .30 kuruş total . . .”

“That’s bullshit buddy . . .You weren’t working, you were sitting in the shade . . .you think this is Yamören, buddy?”

“I didn’t sit in the shade . . .I worked . . .I worked hard.”

“Pssah . . .If you worked, how come they fired you?”

“For being small, they said . . .I’m small . . .You think that’s nonsense?”

“Please! . . .They wouldn’t have fired a man for being small . . .At least they gave your earnings!”

“Very little . . .I worked.

“You pinched a little something didn’t you? Tell me the truth . . .”

“Ask Ali Bey . . .‘You’ll drop a rock on your foot, he said. ‘The government has forbid it. I’m afraid,’ he said.”

“Ha, look, I get it now. The government banned it, right . . .”

“And since it’s true . . .Oh Hasan, I need a job . . .”

“Just wait! . . .Tomorrow or the next day I’ll see Ali Bey and tal­­­­­­k to him . . .”

“Talking to Ali Bey won’t . . .”—suddenly he recalled—“Fine . . .Take me to where you work.”

“Where” To Yenişehir?”

“To Yenişehir . . .”

“What’ll you do in Yenişehir?”

“I’ll work!”—Mustafa pressed the spoons firmly against his belt—“Hasan, take me to Yenişehir . . .”

“There’s no work, kiddo! . . . .In Yenişehir, nobody is working!”

“Sure . . .take me there and leave me alone. I’ll find a job there.”

“Nonsense! . . .In Yenişehir they’re not looking for people. Come wait a bit . . .We’ll think about it . . .”

Hasan reentered the house—because he was a tall guy, he walked a bit hunched. It occurred to Mustafa to be cautious and say no more to his friends about Ali Bey firing him for being “small”—it hadn’t escaped him that, “If I beg, they’ll say I’m stubborn. His clan is the enemy of our clan.” In the past he’d hated Hasan, this tall, taciturn, seldom-smiling guy. He returned inside, thinking, “Who’s Hasan to us, no one!”

Hasan had laid back on his quilt. He was picking his teeth with a needle. He cut the silence in the room by saying, “There’s news Yamörenlis! Ali Bey, seeing he’s small, fired our Mustafa!”

Wrestler Vahit popped up, “Oh Mustafa, is it that so?!”

Even knowing that it would piss them off, Mustafa smiled, “It’s like that! . . .I’m little I guess! . . .”

“What’s ‘little’ mean?”

“Well, that I’m too babyish . . .I might drop a rock on my foot . . .”

“What sort of stupidity is this? Don’t joke.”

“Who’s joking? The government’s forbid it. Go ask . . .”

Hasan shook his head, “The government does have a law like that . . .”

Vahit flopped on his quilt, “Did Ali Bey give you money?”

“Yeah, he did.”

“He gave all of it?”

“Yeah all . . .”

After everyone was asleep, Vahit raised his head, “Mustafa!”

“I’m here.”

“You’re not sleeping?”

“No, I wasn’t.”

“Look Mustafa, things are going bad for you.”

“Oh I know they’re going bad.”

“If things are bad working far away from home you shouldn’t waste effort resisting it . . .It’d be disgraceful if you spend all your money. Listen to me, tomorrow go back to the village . . .”

“Without earning any money, without a thing to show for it, how can one go back to the village?”

“You can go because in Yamören everyone knows you. They’ll say, ‘he ate up his dad’s money and came back’ and laugh.”

“That’s right! They’ll laugh!”—Mustafa grew quieter—“Come, we’ll wait for a few days and see.”

“What’ll come of waiting for a few days?”—Vahit smiled—“You won’t grow bigger in a few days . . .You’re not going to grow a mustache. The government has a law . . .If it were me, I wouldn’t wait. Man, what do you need? Get going jackass! . . .That’s my big advice!”

“All right, thanks Wrester!”

They were quiet for a time. In the distance a car passed honking.

“If there’s a train tomorrow are you going to go?”

“What sort of question is that Vahit! Haven’t I ever been to Yamören? Yamören has passed us by friend . . .My Yamören is here now . . .Here’s where we’re stuck . . .Can’t you see that?


[1] Erol Üyepazarcı, Korkmayınız Mister Sherlock Holmes: Türkiye’de Polisiye Romanın 125 Yılık Öyküsü (1881-2006), Vol. 1, Istanbul: Maceraperest Kitaplar, 2006, pp. 347.
[2] Saıme Göksu and Edward Timms, Romantic Communist: The Life and Work of Nazım Hikmet, London: C. Hurst & Company, 1999, pp. 158-9.
[3] Ibid. p. 349.
[4] Mickey Spillane, I, the Jury, New York: E.P. Dutton, 1947, Chapter 1.
[5] This is a point of debate as Melda Kalyoncu, Nazim Hikmet’s daughter and the one-time President of the Kemal Tahir Foundation, claims that Münevver Andaç, one of Hikmet’s wives and a close friend of Tahir’s, translated the books from English to Turkish with Tahir only touching them up for the Turkish audience. Üyepazarcı (354) doubts this is true for more than one or two of the books. Either way, Tahir definitely found work for Münevver from time to time. Hikmet, for his part, “reproached her for her friendship with” Tahir in order to “create a pretext for breaking” up with her. (Göksu and Timms, 332)
[6] Üyepazarcı, p. 350.
[7] Adam Bernstein, “Mickey Spillane; Tough-Guy Writer Of Mike Hammer Detective Mysteries,” Washington Post, 7/18/06.
[8] Üyepazarcı, p. 351.
[9] Üyepazarcı, p. 355.
[10] Ali Tuna Kuyucu, “Ethno-religious ‘unmixing of ‘Turkey’: 6-7 September riots as a case in Turkish nationalism,” Nations and Nationalism, 11(3), 2005, pp. 361-80. Geoffry Lewis, “The End of the First Turkish Republic,” The World Today, 16 (9), September 1960, pp. 379-80. Jack Fairey, “The Mechanism of Catastrophe: The Turkish Pogrom of September 6-7, 1955, and the Destruction of the Greek Community of Istanbul (Review),” Journal of Modern Greek Studies, 25 (2), October 2007, pp. 333-4.
[11] “Sağır” means deaf, mute, dead, silent and several other possibilities as well. I prefer the ambiguousness of “silent” myself. Kamorun Eronat chooses “The Deaf Stream”—which admitted pairs well with the book’s sequel, Körduman, or “The Blind Cloud/Smoke.” (Kamorun Eronat, “Kemal Tahir’in Sağırdere ve Körduman Romanlar’ında Halkbilimi Öğeleri,” Millî Folklor, 17 (65), 2005.) Kemal Karapat meanwhile chooses “Dead Valley.” (Kemal H. Karapat, “Social Themes in Contemporary Turkish Literature, Part II,” Middle East Journal, 14(2), Spring 1960, pp. 159.
[12] Interestingly, by this point in his career, Tahir was more focused on resuscitating Turk’s pride in their past as a means of staving off westernization than he was inserting communist messages. (Ramazan Gülendam, “Narrative Strategy in Kemal Tahir’s Devlet Ana, Fırat University Journal of Social Science, 12 (2), pp. 139-174. )
[13] This last one, Tired Warrior, remains fairly controversial because it focuses on “Circassian” Ethem—a resistance leader who turned on Ataturk during the 1920s. At the time of the 1980 coup, a very expensive television mini-series based on the book was in production. Seeking to limit potential left-wing propaganda, coup-leaders canceled its release.
[14] However there are parts I could never have figured out without help from Duygy Üreten and Didem Ayan
[15] I used Kemal Tahir, Sağırdere, Istanbul: İthaki Yayınları, 1955 [2006]. But it’s also available in Turkish HERE:
[16] i.e. Ataturk
[17] Bentdere is an area of Ankara best known for its brothels.
[18] For example HERE.
[19] Bey is an honorific meaning something like “sir” or “mister.”
[20] Throughout this (and other) conversations with higher-ranking people—as well as himself—Mustafa refers to himself as “we”—the same way that (in English) some medieval servant would say, “We only mean to please you, m’lord,” etc. I translate it as “we” went it seems appropriate.
[21] Case in point: here Mustafa is referring to himself as “we.” But if it were translated as such, he would come off sounding like Gollum from Lord of the Rings.