Outcasts of the Homeland
by Kemal Ates

Translated by Dr. Mert Akcanbas

3-D Cover for Outcasts of the Homeland

   "A story of migrant Turkish 
    villagers forced to abandon
    their agrarian roots and 
    fight tooth and nail to
    establish a new life in
    the slums of the city."


Outcasts of the Homeland

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Snippet from Book

Haydar was imagining a wedding. . . .

Memis, Halil, Emin from Kirsehir, and Necip were next to him with a man from Yozgat. They linked arms and danced crazily. Haydar led the dance. He wouldn't let anyone else take his place at the head of the chain, jumping and shouting as loud as he could. They stomped on the ground and could feel the rhythm of their stomping, joined with the drums' rumble through the ground beneath their feet. Their bodies sucked the melody from the soil, as if it were milk from a mother's breast. This celebration was as old as the soil. . . .

Haydar never tried to control the wildness of his drunken, joyful dancing, which had been accepted by their society for thousands of years. . . . He was mesmerized with drink, as if he had partaken of a thousand-year-old wine.

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About This Great Book

Ayten and her family are poor migrants from a village in western Turkey, to the slum areas outside of Ankara. They struggled to secure a small parcel of land, build a home and become accepted within the social confines of an area, which is not really the city, but not the village either. So, are they themselves city dwellers or villagers?

The story of the Outcasts of the Homeland is set in the here and now: it is a timeless tale of people looking for a better life and the hardships of uprooting the family and having the children grow up with confused ideas of their own identity.

Ayten is a beautiful young girl, the belle of the neighborhood, which causes a lot of jealousy among the women and desire among the men. She is disappointed to learn that beauty is not enough when her young boyfriend goes away to college, meets different kinds of women, and decides he'd rather marry a real city girl.

Emin is a migrant who dreams of building his own shack, so he won't have to pay rent and will be able to educate his children. But having one's own home is not as easy as it is in the village.

Family honor is a concept of the utmost importance, because many of the people are so poor, it is the only ideal they will ever be able to aspire to.

As more and more people move to the area, public services increase, but so does the strife over land rights and petty squabbles between ignorant people as they struggle for a better life.


From A Review

Turkish author Kemal Ates' Outcasts of the Land is set in the slum areas outside Ankara, Turkey. It begins with a love affair between two teenagers, Ayten and Ilhan. Because of the restrictions of their traditional village upbringing, and that of their neighbors, they are not allowed a normal courtship as young people in the city would have.


From The Author

There have been many books written about life in the slums by authors who actually moved into the area for closer observance, but the results were still "outsiders looking in."

It was my goal in writing Outcasts of the Homeland to portray the lives of migrant slum dwellers faithfully from a "first person" point of view. I didn't want to just say, "I have been there," but to express that, "I have lived in their shoes."

It seems I was successful. Outcasts of the Homeland is much acclaimed and was awarded the "Mehmet Ali Yalcin Award for Literature" in 1991.

Kemal Ates


Photo of Kemal Ates

Kemal Ates


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