Books: Turkish Robin Hood

MEMED MY HAWK (371 pp.)—Yashar Kemal—Pantheon ($4.95).

Turkish literature, little of which has ever penetrated to the U.S., has always been derivative. For hundreds of years, Turkish poets imitated those of Persia; in the 19th and 20th centuries, the model has been France. This lively first novel skillfully blends both traditions with a strong individualistic note of its own and suggests that U.S. readers may have been missing something. Beautifully translated by Edouard Roditi, the book tells the story of young Memed who grows up in a mud-walled village hut in a remote province of Anatolia. Recklessly brave and a deadly marksman,...

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