Orhan Pamuk, Nobel laureate – on his 70th birthday: Istanbul’s fate is my destiny

“This trial is not about my novel at all, it’s about ideology,” Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk explained in an interview at the end of last year. The Public Prosecutor’s Office summoned him for questioning several times after the major Turkish daily Hurriyet launched a real manhunt against the writer.

“What is Orhan Pamuk’s goal in mocking Ataturk? Does he want to start a riot? Does he want to send a message abroad?” The purely rhetorical questions of editor-in-chief Ahmet Hakan after the publication of Pamuk’s latest novel “Nights of the Plague”, which tormented herself more badly than Right between the poetic novel and political symbolism.
“He has found new symbols of intercultural conflict and communication,” said a 2006 statement from the Stockholm Nobel Prize Committee that awarded Orhan Pamuk the most important prize in the world of literature as the first Turkish writer in the long history of the Nobel. prize.
What was Gdansk for Günter Grass, Cologne for Heinrich Boll and Cairo for Najib Mächfuss, Istanbul is Pamuk’s birthplace – the center of his literary works, which reflect personal experiences and social changes in equal measure. “There is hardly an author in world literature who could write such splendid descriptions of the city as Pamuk,” said Horace Engdahl, then Secretary of the Nobel Academy.
I grew up in a house where many novels were read. My father had an extensive library and he used to tell stories about great writers like Thomas Mann, Kafka, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. Even as a child, all these novels and authors were synonymous with the concept of Europe,” Pamuk explained in an interview. But despite this early affinity with great European literature, he always tried in his own works to balance tradition and modernity, between East and West. In German translation His 2001 novel “Rot ist mein Name” – set in the 16th century but with deep roots in the present – impressively describes Istanbul as a city on the threshold of cultures, as a tyrannical urban power exposed to polyphonic social currents. This is a polyphony with dozens of narrators appearing in the plot.
Pamuk’s great novel Schnee (German 2005), winner of the 2004 New York Times Award for Best Foreign Book, deals with a contemporary theme. In the photo, a man travels to a rural town to investigate a strange series of suicides of young girls. They are said to have killed themselves because they were forced to remove their headscarves. Then there is a coup. Private destinies mix with collective tragedies, and religion and politics combine to create a precarious situation for individuals.
Despite his great international success (his works have been translated into 35 languages), Orhan Pamuk has always been controversial in his homeland. In early 2005, the author was tried for “insulting Turkish identity”.
Orhan Pamuk, born on June 7, 1952 to the son of an upper-class family in Istanbul and wanted to be a painter as a child, earned a university degree as a journalist after dropping out of architecture studies. At the age of 23 he decided to work exclusively as a writer. He retired to the family’s summer home on an island in the Mamara Sea for many years before the publication of his first literary work, Sevdet Bey in Ugular.
Except for a three-year stay in the USA (1985-1988) at Columbia University in New York, where his wife obtained her Ph.D. and where he himself worked on his book “Kara Kitap” (The Black Engineer), Pamuk had never before stayed in Istanbul For a long time she left. Istanbul’s fate is my destiny. I feel connected to this city because it made me who I am,” Pamuk’s declaration of love for his town, where he lives with his wife and daughter, which also appears in his novels “Dieses Fremdheit in mir” (2016) and plays “The Red-Haired Woman” (all published with subtitles). German by Carl Hanser Verlag) played a central role.
However, there is always a mixture of fear and skepticism in the mind of a Nobel Prize winner: “My reputation may also protect me. This way I can say things that others might not dare to say.”

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