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Salman the Solitary (Panther) Paperback – June, 1999

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Fleeing invading Russian troops with his family, Ismail Agha, a Kurdish peasant in Turkey, comes upon Salman, a small child left for dead at the roadside. At the urgings of his mother, who treats Salman's wounds, Ismail agrees to take Salman with the family. When the family settles in a small village, Ismail raises Salman as his own son. Salman idolizes Ismail and imitates him in every way. Ismail dotes on the foundling, until his wife, Zero, becomes pregnant and bears him Mustafa. Suddenly, Salman is no longer the beloved only son, and a vicious rivalry blossoms between the boys. Salman's obsessive devotion to Ismail grows; at the same time, his anger at being replaced in his father's affections drives him to violence, first against Mustafa and, finally, against the very father whose love and approval he desperately needs. Chilling, bloody, relentlessly real, this highly emotional examination of the father-son bond and of jealousy between brothers is the work of a major Turkish novelist. Bonnie Johnston --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"A parable of human nature; an evocation of time and place of extraordinary poetic skill and immediacy . . . This shimmering fable is a wonderful reminder of what a real book is like . . . Bells should be rung." -- Peter Arnott, Glasgow Herald

"Not the least of [this novel's] facets is its concern with racial tension and prejudice, as dark intensifiers of identity . . . In Salman the Solitary, [Kemal] presents us, with beauty and charity, the Kurdish predicament and world-view . . . [a] courageous masterpiece." -- Paul Binding, Literary Review

"Yashar Kemal is a cauldron where fact, fantasy and folklore are stirred to produce poetry. He is a storyteller in the oldest tradition, that of Homer, spokesman for a people who had no other voice." -- Elia Kazan

"Yashar Kemal is one of the modern world's great storytellers." -- John Berger

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Product Details

  • Series: Panther
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Press; F Second Printing edition (June 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860465137
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860465130
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A good story told vividly, old world setting, unusual people, customs and surroundings. His writing is like a bright painting. Even though translation, which done by no other than Y. Kemal's recently departed dear Thilda who did almost all of his translations, inevitably costs some of the luster of the language and depth of expression, it is still haunting. The setting is his beloved Cukurova. People, a mosaic of the Anatolia he dreams, Turcomans, Kurds, Arabs, Armenians, Circassians, and all who have called it home, their customs, rituals, and fears and conflicts parade in the book. What may not be too obvious to someone not familiar is that, he draws a picture of the landscape that is about a century old almost. Early days of the Republic, institutions and culture in transition, melting pot of the Empire slowly in reverse, turmoils and tragedies of World War I still quite fresh. A theme that comes up quite often in Kemal's books, and gets a little old. He seems to have been stuck in a certain time period. The book is pleasant to read. His style of mixing time slices and simple, non-analytic prose relying more on painting of scenes and people is quite powerful. Some of those scenes tend to be rather violent and uncut, remiscent of the "Koylu" writers movement that was so popular in Turkey in the 50s and 60s. Like many of his works, this book also reflects the rich texture and traditions of Anatolia. Y. Kemal is certainly one of the greatest story tellers of our time. Recommended read.
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Format: Hardcover
The emotional intensity of the ancient hatreds and violence between Turks and Kurds, the origins of which may not even be clear to the participants, is vividly illuminated by this novel. Set in the 20th century, a fact made clear only because cars and tractors are mentioned once or twice, this novel feels as if it could have been set almost any time over the past 2000 years. Kurds, Armenians, Yedizis, Turkomans, and even Bedouins inhabit the Turkish/Iraqi border, just after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Time here is not linear, nor is the novel itself, spiralling instead through generations, forced exilings, attempts to settle down, unconscionable atrocities, and rises and falls in fortune. The novel doubles back upon itself and shows its characters and the mores of its many cultures from different perspectives. Throughout all this, a Greek-like chorus of village gossips comments maliciously on the lives of the main characters. This is especially disconcerting because the main character, Ismail Agha, a Kurd, is a good man who cares for his neighbors. When he is rich he is admired and respected, but when, in sympathy for his poor neighbors, he uses all his riches to help them and becomes as poor as they, he becomes the subject of their vicious but seductive gossip, slandered by the very people he has helped, who decide that he has found and/or stolen a buried treasure. Details of the successive depredations by different cultural entities are vividly presented, with the author often using nature and its wildlife to show parallels or contrasts between human and animal behavior. With the flavor of a collection of folk tales, this novel offers a unique glimpse of a world largely hidden, except in headlines.
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By A Customer on December 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
A good book but falls short of Kemal's usual high standards. While you can see the traditional techniques used by perhaps the greatest story teller alive today, it lacks the humour and warmth that characterised his earlier work.
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Format: Paperback
Bubbling up, welling into the world from deep inside, this heady mixture of myth, legend, and Turkish folktale comes, not from tradition but from the fertile imagination of Yashar Kemal. As in his other books, the reader enters a world of flashing, flying colors, repeated images and metaphors, coppery mists, blood-dripping trees, violence, love, and jealousy. Lightning zigzags through the clouds ever more threateningly, the wind carries the scents of the mountain, bitter plants, thyme, pennyroyal, rocks, and eartth, boys dig for kingfishers, men shoot and devour herds of gazelles and spend years of their lives fighting with endless wastes full of thorny trees. Nothing is minimalist about Kemal. Perhaps we could call him a "maximalist"; he creates the maximum amount of atmosphere.
The depth of Kemal's characters comes obliquely, through the thick tissue of mythological repetition and slow transformation. Perhaps the weaving of a Turkish kilim, or traditional carpet, would not be a bad metaphor for how the story proceeds. The filips, the changes of direction and mood, are not found in dialogue between characters so much as in passages of gossip among unnamed villagers. SALMAN THE SOLITARY, while similar in style to the other Kemal novels I've read, seems less coherent, though fascinating nonetheless. Several stories are wound together like separate colors of a carpet. Young boys, with childish perceptions of events and childish appreciation of natural beauty, feature as always. Then, there is the story of the Kurdish Ismail Agha, his flight from war and massacre, and rebirth as a Cukurova landlord---the Cukurova being the nearly-mythological land where Kemal himself was born.
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