The Wind from the Plain, 1960

Halil Tayürek

Halil Tayürek, called Old Halil, a village elder, born in 1884. He argues with Meryemdje for the right to ride an old horse. The horse falls dead before the argument is resolved. He disappears for a time and is thought dead.

Long Ali

Long Ali, who undertakes a treacherous journey with his family through rugged mountains because he thinks he can find work picking cotton.

Iron Earth, Copper Sky, 1963


Meryemdje, the widowed mother of Long Ali, grandmother of Hassan and Ummahan, and oldest woman in the village of Yalak, born in 1886. She denies that Old Halil, who had disappeared the previous fall, is dead and refuses to participate in the funeral service. She is proven right when he reappears. She takes an oath of silence. To prevent Adil Effendi, the moneylender, from seizing her belongings, she bundles them up and hides them under a log. She keeps watch for Effendi, but he never comes. Like all the cattle in the village, her family’s calf is hidden in a cave. Meryemdje visits the calf and breaks her oath of silence to give it soothing words. When another woman is hurt in a fight, Meryemdje prepares a healing ointment. She leads a mob of women against Sefer Effendi, the village Muhtar (headman), when they learn that he betrayed them. She backs down when the Muhtar brings out his rifle.

Halil Tayürek

Halil Tayürek, who has his son hide him in a grain crib when he returns to the village. The villagers learn where he is hiding and come to the grain crib as a group. They force him to come out and persuade him they will not harm him. When they leave, he leaves the village despite a blizzard.


Hassan, the son of Long Ali and grandson of Meryemdje. He makes matches. He gives some to Taba before the local police take Taba to jail.

Memet Taba Effendi

Memet Taba Effendi, called Taba, an old man and venerated elder of the village. The villagers acclaim him a saint with mystical powers, which he comes to accept. When he is first arrested by the local police, he is let off with a warning to desist from assuming the role of a saint. The villagers decide that his release is further proof of his saintliness. After the police arrest him a second time, he escapes during a blizzard.

The Undying Grass, 1968


Meryemdje, whose son leaves her behind, alone, when villagers descend to the Chukurova Valley for the cotton harvest. She is too weak to make the journey. Her family leaves her enough food to survive until their return. At first, she spends much of her time trying to catch a stray rooster. When she finally traps him, she lets him go. She is lonely and bored in the village. When Omer arrives with instructions from the Muhtar to kill her for money, she greets him so affectionately that he relents.

Halil Tayürek

Halil Tayürek, who, having survived the blizzard to reach a neighboring village, spends the winter in the home of a friend. When harvest time arrives, he searches the valley for the Yalak villages. When he finds them, he joins in the harvest. He tries to help Long Ali, who is in trouble for abandoning his mother. He persuades Long Ali to get up in the middle of the night to pick extra cotton. After the villagers beat Long Ali, Halil leaves them, followed by a large yellow sheepdog. He tries to steal some cotton but is caught. His captors make a halter around his neck with a rope and force him to carry the sack of cotton through four villages. He is stoned and spat on. Finally, someone forces his captor to put him in a cart and return him to the Yalak villagers.

Memet Taba Effendi

Memet Taba Effendi, who survives the blizzard thanks in part to Hassan’s matches. He returns to the villagers while they are picking cotton. His mystical powers disappear, so he walks into the sea and drowns.


(Great Characters in Literature)

Binyazar, Adnan. “The Yasar Kemal Phenomenon,” in Edebiyat. V, nos. 1/2 (1980), pp. 205-220.

Halman, Talat Sait. “Turkish Literature in the 1960’s,” in The Literary Review. XV, no. 4 (1971/1972), pp. 387-402..

Halman, Talat Sait. “World Literature in Review: The Undying Grass,” in World Literature Today. LI, no. 4 (1977), pp.676-677..

Halman, Talat Sait. “World Literature in Review: The Wind from the Plain,” in Books Abroad. XLIV, no. 1 (1970), pp. 181-182.

Ozturk, M. Orhan. “Yasar Kemal’s Social Psychology,” in Edebiyat. V, nos. 1/2 (1980), pp. 131-133.