Orhan Kemal was born in Adana, Turkey in 1914. His father, a political activist, emigrated to Syria, leaving his son unable to complete his education and forced to do menial jobs. During his military service in 1939 Kemal was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for his political views. In prison he befriended poet Nazım Hikmet, who greatly influenced Kemal’s socialist politics and his commitment to writing. He moved to Istanbul in 1951 and began to write full time. His works concentrate on the struggles of ordinary people: the problems of farm and factory workers, the alienation of migrant workers in big cities, the lives of prison inmates, blind devotion to duty, child poverty and the repression and exploitation of women. He was the author of thirty-eight works of fiction, several of which have been filmed or turned into plays. He died in Sophia in 1970 and is buried in Istanbul.