Turkish literature holds a rich pool of the country’s literary traditions which is yet undiscovered by avid readers of the world. However, those who have got the chance to read the masterpieces of top-notch writers like Sabahattin Ali and Yasar Kemal sing praises of the books till this day.
If you also want to quench your thirst for Turkish literature, here are the 10 best books by Turkish authors you must not miss out on.
#1 The Bastard of Istanbul (2006) by Elif Shafak
Elif Shafak is already well-known among the readers, especially by the popularity of one of her bestsellers, Forty Rules of love. ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’ is Elif Shafak’s another literary contribution based on a teenage girl, Asya (with the title of the bastard), and her Armenian American cousin, Armanoush.
The story continues as a bold tale of the country’s disturbing past uncovering the Armenian deportations of 1915. The three interconnected families of mixed-up heritage depict the complexity of Turkish society. The Bastard of Istanbul effortlessly makes its way into the best books by Turkish authors, with many twists and turns that lead to a shocking finale, definitely a treat for literary lovers.
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#2 The Time Regulation Institute (1954) by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar
It was not until 2014 that the comic masterpiece, The Time Regulation Institute, got translated into English for international readers. The best part is that it has been occupying its spot among the best books by Turkish authors since then. The novel takes a satirical approach towards the westernization of the country.
One thing you need to know about the author is that his colleague, Orhan Pamuk hails him as the ‘greatest Turkish novelist of the 20th century.’
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#3 My Name is Red (1998) by Orhan Pamuk
Benim Adım Kırmızı which translates into ‘My Name is Red’ is a gem of a book by the famous Turkish novelist, Orhan Pamuk. The book got translated into English in 2001 and is one of the best books by Turkish authors.
Since its publication in 1998, ‘My Name is Red’ has been translated and read in over 60 languages. The book is a remarkable blend of romance, mystery, murder, Turkish political conflict, and art that leaves its readers awestruck.
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#4 Forbidden Love (1986) by Halit Ziya Uşaklıgil
Aşk-ı Memnu (Turkish) or Forbidden Love is a novel you can finish in one sitting. Why am I so certain? Well, it is because of the drama and action of one of Turkish literary history’s most popular love stories.
An interesting fact about the novel is that it has made its way to television series twice (1975 and 2008). The 2008 version broke the rating records in Turkey and garnered much praise in other countries. One of the countries is Pakistan, where the TV series got dubbed in Urdu (country’s national language) with the title, Ishq-e-mamnu.
If you are into drama, action, and romance, Forbidden Love is one of the best books by Turkish authors whose brilliance still remains unbeaten by these TV series.
#5 Istanbul Boy: The Autobiography of Aziz Nesin (1991)
The life of Aziz Nesin, a prolific writer, holds immense importance in the eyes of Turks. This is one of the reasons why his autobiography has been admired by people in Turkey and across the globe.
If you are not yet familiar with Aziz Nesin, here is a little insight into his life. He has written over 100 books, spent years in jail because of his political views, and yet made his way into a decent living through his work. If this is something you are interested in, you must consider Istanbul boy as one of the best books by Turkish authors.
#6 Memed, My Hawk (1955) by Yasar Kemal
Let’s consider the work of a Nobel Prize nominee, Yasar Kemal, among the best books by Turkish authors. ‘Memed, My Hawk’ revolves around the story of a young village boy, Memed, and his love, Hatche.
Following the events of cruelty by landowners and the plot of revenge, the book is a lyric-epic of rural Turkey and one of the top-notch books by Turkish authors.
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#7 Three Daughters of Eve (2016) by Elif Shafak
Here comes a personal favorite, Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak. The author never fails to amaze her readers with her powerful grip over penning down her thoughts.
Three Daughters of Eve is connected with three topics that remain close to the author; female friendship (gender), Muslim identity (identity), and the state of Turkey (nationality).
About the novel, you will get to visit the 1980’s era of Turkey and the Oxford University in the early 2000s. In a word, the novel is one of the books by Turkish authors that has been loved by millions across the borders.
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#8 The Time of Mute Swans (2017) by Ece Temelkuran
This is a relatively recent publication by Temelkuran told through the eyes of two children, Ali and Ayşe. The book resonates between history and fiction with a leftist approach. If you share similar ideas, then this book is something you would thoroughly enjoy reading.
The author is a famous Turkish journalist who is critical of the Turkish government (which is still in power as I write).
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#9 Madonna in a Fur Coat (1943) by Sabahattin Ali
Since its publication in 1943, Kürk Mantolu Madonna or Madonna in a Fur Coat has consistently occupied the slot of one of the best books by Turkish authors.
If you are into tragedy and a darker side of modern Turkish fiction, this novel is the one for you.
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#10 Night (1985) by Bilge Karasu
Just so you know, the book under discussion is the winner of the Pegasus Prize for Literature. The prestigious recognition is enough to raise your expectations, and rightfully so.The story is about a writer who has been marked for assassination. In short, it is a political parable you would absolutely fall in love with.