20 Best Turkish Authors Of All Time

Turkey is beloved for its rich culture. Explore the work of these 20 best Turkish authors to get a feel for the culture of this important region.

The Turkish language is full of rich literary history. You can discover the people and culture of this region if you read books by Turkish authors. Many works by famous Turkish literary professionals have English language translations, allowing more cultures to experience these writings.

Knowing where to start can be tough, and this list of the best writers in the Turk culture is an excellent place to begin. By picking up one of the books by Turkish authors on this list, you will be able to discover what makes the Turkish mind work. You might also be interested in our round-up of the best American authors of all time.

Best Turkish Authors

1. Orhan Pamuk

Winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature, Orhan Pamuk has several famous books to his name. The Black Book, Istanbul: Memories and the City, The Museum of Innocence, and My Name Is Red, to name just a few. He is one of the most prominent novelists from Turkey, and he is the country’s best-selling writer.

Pamuk is the first Turkish author to become a Nobel Laureate. He was born in Istanbul in 1952 and pulls some of the ideas for his writing from his childhood in the country. He started his writing career at 23, giving up all of his other work aspirations to write full-time.

You might enjoy our round-up of the best Brazilian authors.

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Istanbul: Memories and the City
  • Pamuk, Orhan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 07/11/2006 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

2. Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar

Borin in 1901 in Constantinople, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar was a Turkish poet, essayist, and novelist. He is most famous for Those Who Stand Outside the Stage and A Mind at Peace. He also published Poetry, a collection of 37 of his poems, and The Time Regulation Institute.

In addition to his writing career, Tanpinar served on the Grand National Assembly of Turkey as a Republican People’s Party representative. He died of a heart attack in 1962. After his death, several of his works received posthumous publication.

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A Mind at Peace
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 447 Pages - 12/01/2008 (Publication Date) - Archipelago Books (Publisher)

3. Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak is a modern Turkish author who writes in English and Turkish. She has 19 works to her name, with her novels gaining the most recognition. Three Daughters of Eve tops the list of her most famous works, and The Bastard of Istanbul is another popular one.

Shafak is a well-educated writer with a Ph.D. in political science. She often writes on and advocates for women’s rights and the rights of other minorities and has several TED talks. She currently lives in France.

Three Daughters of Eve
  • Shafak, Elif (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 01/22/2019 (Publication Date) - Bloomsbury Publishing (Publisher)

4. Nâzım Hikmet

Nâzım Hikmet was a poet, playwright, and novelist from Turkey who was not afraid to share his political beliefs, even if it meant being arrested for them. He spent much of his adult life in exile for his poetry and other works, including Beyond the Walls: Selected Poems and Human Landscapes from My Country: An Epic Novel in Verse.

Hikmet was born in 1902 to an Ottoman Empire government official. He began writing as a teenager, having some of his poetry published when he was 17. Early in his life, he became an enemy of Turkey, often facing arrest for his writing because he supported Communism.

Human Landscapes from My Country: An Epic Novel in Verse (Karen and Michael Braziller Books)
  • Hikmet, Nazim (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 480 Pages - 01/06/2009 (Publication Date) - Persea (Publisher)

5. Sabahattin Ali

Turkish novelist Sabahattin Ali is one of Turkey’s most effective 20th-century short story writers who took on social themes in his writing. He has two famous collections of short stories that show his abilities: The Mill and The Oxcart. He also wrote Madonna in a Fur Coat.

Ali was born in Bulgaria and lived in Istanbul in his childhood. He attended Teacher School, where many of his poems and short stories were published by the school’s student paper. Like Hikmet, Ali faced arrest for his poetry and short stories that criticized the government of the time. Sadly, an assassin killed Ali in 1948 after his release from prison.

Yeni Dünya (Turkish Edition)
  • Sabahattin Ali (Author)
  • Turkish (Publication Language)
  • 124 Pages - 04/24/2017 (Publication Date) - Yapı Kredi Yayınları (Publisher)

6. Yaşar Kemal

Yaşar Kemal was a Turkish writer and human rights activist who received multiple awards for his works, including the Z. Homer Poetry Award and the Turkish Publisher’s Association Lifetime Achievement Award. He wrote novels, poetry and stories, including The Wind from the Plain and Memed, My Hawk. Many of these now have English language translations.

Kemal was imprisoned for alleged communist activities throughout his life, but he continued writing despite these challenges. Kemal’s work was foundational in Turkish literature, helping establish the language as a literary language.

Memed, My Hawk
  • Kemal, Yashar (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 392 Pages - 04/10/2005 (Publication Date) - NYRB Classics (Publisher)

7. Adalet Ağaoğlu

Best Turkish authors: Adalet Ağaoğlu
ErhanSacli, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Adalet Ağaoğlu was one of the top novelists and playwrights of 20th-century Turkish literature. She also wrote memoirs, short stories and essays, and her novels. Her work won her the Turkish Presidency Merit Award in 1995. Some of her works, like Summer’s End, have English translations.

Ağaoğlu benefitted from living in the more liberal constitution of the 1960s. She earned her degree in French literature from the University of Ankara. Upon returning to Turkey, Ağaoğlu worked with the local cultural programming for radio and founded the Arena Theatre Company.

SUMMER'S END
  • Agaoglu, Adalet (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 218 Pages - 03/01/2008 (Publication Date) - Talisman House, Publishers (Publisher)

8. Aziz Nesin

With more than 100 books to his name, Aziz Nesin was a prolific writer with over 50 pen names, so determining which books he wrote is not easy. Like many Turkish writers of the early 1900s, he was often jailed for his writings and beliefs. Some of his works include Out of the Way! Socialism’s Coming! or Memoirs of an Exile.

Many of his works, including Istanbul Boy and Memoirs of an Exile, are autobiographical in nature. He also had a very negative opinion of the Muslim religion, writing The Satanic Verses to criticize the Islamic religious belief.

Out of the Way! Socialism's Coming! (Turkish - English Short Stories series)
  • Nesin, Aziz (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 175 Pages - 01/01/2001 (Publication Date) - Milet Publishing (Publisher)

9. Latife Tekin

Latife Tekin is one of the most influential Turkish female writers of the 20th century. Her book Dear Shameless Death is her most famous, published in 1983. It tells of a young girl growing up in Turkey who faces a haunted community filled with fairies and demons.

Much of Tekin’s writing has influences from her childhood in Kayseri, which was a multicultural city that brought many different cultures into her books. Her works are considered the magic realism genre.

Dear Shameless Death
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Latife Tekin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 03/01/2001 (Publication Date) - Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd (Publisher)

10. Halide Edip Adivar

Throughout her life, Halide Edip Adivar fought hard for women’s rights. She used her novel-writing to spread those ideas, criticizing the low social status of women in Turkey during her day and age. The Daughter of Smyrna and The Turkish Ordeal are two of her famous works with English translations.

Adivar was born into an upper-class family in Constantinople, so she was well-educated due to her family’s wealth. As an adult, she became active on the political and social scenes, and she worked hard to improve the social and economic situation of the women of Turkey.

The Turkish Ordeal: Being the Further Memoirs of Halide Edib
  • Hardcover Book
  • Adivar, Halide Edib (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 300 Pages - Gorgias Pr Llc (Publisher)

11. Orhan Veli Kanik

Best Turkish authors: Orhan Veli Kanik
Tenar80, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Turkish poet Orhan Veli Kanik has six works of poetry published between 1941 and 1949 and a Collected Poems compilation published after his death. His poems showed up first in the Varlik magazine. His works changed the meter and style of Turkish poetry into a folk song.

Kanik received his education at the Faculty of Literature of Istanbul University. He worked for the post office in Ankara and then as an officer in the Turkish Army, working as a translator before becoming an editor. He died in 1950.

Sakın Şaşırma: Seçme Şiirler
  • Orhan Veli Kanık (Author)
  • Turkish (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 01/05/2016 (Publication Date) - Yapı Kredi Yayınları (Publisher)

12. Reşat Nuri Güntekin

Reşat Nuri Güntekin wrote novels, stories, and plays. The Wren is his best-known novel, and it chronicles the story of a woman who taught in Anatolia and followed her testing. He also wrote From the Lips to the Heart and The Fall of Leaves.

Reşat Nuri Güntekin graduated from Istanbul University’s literature program in 1912. He worked in education and represented Turkey in UNESCO. He died of lung cancer at the age of 67 in 1956.

Çalikuşu (the Wren): The Complete English Translation
  • Güntekin, Reşat Nuri (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 12/21/2020 (Publication Date) - Alma Angela Garcia (Publisher)

13. Sait Faik Abasıyanık

Sait Faik Abasıyanık was one of the best short story and poetry writers of Turkey and was important to the development of Turkish literature. He brought a new style to the short story genre by portraying urban life and the darker side of Istanbul. The Missing and The Boat of Livelihood are his two novels, and he also has an extensive collection of short stories.

As a young man, Abasıyanık received his education in Istanbul before moving to Switzerland and then France. He settled in Turkey and worked as a teacher while developing his writing. When he died in 1954, Abasıyanık left his money to an orphanage. The Sait Faik Short Story Prize is named for this author.

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Sait Faik: Hikayeleri
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Sait Faik (Author) - Demir Gökgöl (Narrator)
  • Turkish (Publication Language)
  • 07/15/2017 (Publication Date) - falkemusik (Publisher)

14. Dr. Mehmet Oz

Many people don’t know that Dr. Oz from the television show is a Turkish-American. He has written many books on food and health, including You on a Diet and The Oz Principle.

Dr. Mehmet Oz was born in Cleveland to Turkish immigrants. He attended Harvard University and began his medical career at Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. After making several guest appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, he was offered his syndication by her company, and The Dr. Oz Show was born.

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YOU: On A Diet Revised Edition: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Roizen, Michael F. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 544 Pages - 12/29/2009 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

15. Yusuf Atilgan

Yusuf Atilgan is a novelist and dramatic from Turkey who wrote The Loiterer and Motherland Hotel. He is the pioneer of the Turkish novel, and his books touched on deep psychological thoughts like loneliness and the meaning of life.

Atilgan was born in 1922 in Manisa. He worked as a translator, consultant, redactor, and writer throughout his life. He was arrested and served ten months in jail because of suspected communist activities.

Motherland Hotel
  • Atilgan, Yusuf (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 152 Pages - 12/27/2016 (Publication Date) - City Lights Publishers (Publisher)

16. Burhan Sönmez

Author of Istanbul Istanbul, Burhan Sönmez, writes about four people who face imprisonment in a cell underneath Istanbul. Their stories show how Istanbul’s population worked to reclaim the city from its authoritarian rulers. Sönmez claims the book is not political, though it does take some political stances. Burhan Sönmez won the Kurdish prize for his writing and several European literary awards.

Sönmez has dual Turkish and British citizenship and was born and raised in Turkey. He spent a lot of time fighting for human rights and was assaulted by the police in 1996 for some of his beliefs.

Istanbul Istanbul
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Telegram Books (Publisher)

17. Ilhan Berk

Ilhan Berk is considered one of the most influential poets from modern Turkey. His New Selected Poems is a selection of his poetry translated into English, showing readers what the Turkish poetical mind is like.

Berk was born in the Ottoman Empire in 1918 and lived until 89. He studied the French language at Gazi University in Ankara. He worked as a teacher for ten years until becoming a translator for a publishing office and focusing on his poetry.

The Book of Things
  • Berk, Ilhan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 310 Pages - 02/19/2016 (Publication Date) - Shearsman Books (Publisher)

18. Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu

Best Turkish authors: Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu
Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu wrote several novels in the early to mid-1900s. Some of his more famous works include On the Path of the Nation and Stepmother Earth. Many of his works discuss themes of war and politics.

Karaosmanoglu was born in Cairo to a family from Manisa. Because Cairo was part of the Ottoman Empire, he eventually because a Turkish citizen. He is a novelist, journalist, and diplomat and died in Akara, Turkey, in 1974.

Stepmother Earth (Turkish Literature)
  • Karaosmanoglu, Yakup Kadri (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 04/01/2020 (Publication Date) - Milet Publishing (Publisher)

19. Irfan Orga

Irfan Orga wrote Portrait of a Turkish Family. It shows how a wealthy Ottoman family was torn down financially and emotionally in the last days of the Ottoman Empire. It is an interesting study of the history and culture of the time and the effect of World War I on the people of Turkey.

In addition to being an author, Orga worked as a Turkish fighter pilot. Due to the war, he attended military school for high school and eventually had to flee the country to London, England. He traveled extensively, and many of his books told of his travels.

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Portrait of a Turkish Family
  • Orga, Irfan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 316 Pages - 06/13/2003 (Publication Date) - Eland Publishing (Publisher)

20. Selcuk Altun

Selcuk Altun wrote The Sultan of Byzantium. This book talks about the legend of Emperor Constantine XI, whose body was never found. It is an excellent example of historical fiction that explores the culture of the people of Turkey.

Selcuk was born in 1950 and lives in Turkey. He attended university to study management and was a chairman of Yapi Kredi Bank. He retired from the financial world in 2004 to write full-time.

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The Sultan of Byzantium
  • Selcuk Altun (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 04/16/2013 (Publication Date) - Telegram Books (Publisher)

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.