The Caravan Moves On

Three Weeks Among Turkish Nomads

By Irfan Orga
Published by Eland Books

£12.99 / $17.16 / 98.92 TL
($/TL approx)

Book Review | Cornucopia 27

All Their Yesterdays: The Caravan Moves On

By Maureen Freely


Irfan Orga was born and raised in Istanbul, and he served for many years in the Turkish Army. He was forced out of the army and the country because he defied the authorities to marry a non-Turk. He moved to London, where he lived on the edge of poverty with his Irish wife.

He began writing because no one would give him a proper job. Although he wrote in many different genres, he was always returning to the murky questions raised by his own history. The Caravan Moves On, first published in 1958, is very much in this vein. It purports to be the story of a trip he took to the south of Turkey in search of the Yürüks, the nomadic tribe that was still living in significant numbers in the Karadag Mountains at that time. But there are clear and early hints that this is a means to an end, and that what he is really writing is a meditation on Atatürk and his legacy. In the foreground is a rapidly modernising country in which all good citizens praise progress. And, hanging high above them, nestled in an almost inaccessible plateau near the top of the Karadag Mountains, are the only Anatolians who would be recognisable to their ancestors of a thousand years ago, and the only Turks who can still call themselves free.

So at what price freedom?

As he acquaints hims