The Sea-Crossed Fisherman

The Sea-Crossed Fisherman


A tale of greed, hatred and decay from Turkey's legendary novelist Yashar Kemal

Yashar Kemal was an unsurpassed storyteller who brings to life a world of staggering violence and hallucinatory beauty. Kemal’s books delve deeply into the entrenched social and historical conflicts that scar the Middle East. At the same time scents and sounds, vistas of mountain and stream and field, rise up from the pages of his books with primitive force.

In a sudden, chance encounter in a coffee-house in a fishing village near Istanbul, Zeynel Celik shoots a local gangster. Only one man intervenes – the village outcast Fisher Selim – and in doing so inadvertently transfers the blame for the murder onto himself. From this one simple act, Zeynel becomes a legendary outlaw in the minds of the people, whereas Fisher Selim, passionate about the sea and haunted by a lost love, is cast as an eccentric oddball. Each is pursued by his own paranoia, memories of the past and hopes for the future, until their paths cross once again on Selim’s boat, and their obsessions come to a resolution. Reflective and lyrical, the novel offers insight into the Turkish mentality while drawing universally valid conclusions, and manages to be both brutally savage and deeply humane.


  • One of the great storytellers. He writes fearlessly, like a hero
    John Berger

About the author

Yashar Kemal

Yashar Kemal (1923 - 2015) was born on the cotton-growing plains of Chukurova, which feature in his The Wind from the Plain trilogy. His championship of poor peasants lost him a succession of jobs, but he was eventually able to buy a typewriter and set himself up as a public letter-writer in the small town of Kadirli. After a spell as a journalist, he published a volume of short stories in 1952, and then, in 1955, his first novel Memed, My Hawk won the Varlik Prize for best novel of the year. His highly distinguished literary career continued in this vein; his work won countless prizes from all over the world and has been translated into several languages. Kemal was a member of the Central Committee of the banned Workers' Party, and in 1971 he was held in prison for 26 days before being released without charge. Subsequently, he was placed on trial for action in support of Kurdish dissidents. Among the many international prizes and honours he received in recognition of his gifts as a writer and his courageous fight for human rights, were the French Légion d'Honneur and the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, as well as being nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Kemal was Turkey's most influential living writer and, in the words of John Berger, "one of the modern world's great storytellers".
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