Orhan Pamuk, the first Turk to receive a Nobel Prize for Literature

by Victor Grigore, Webphoto.ro

Orhan Pamuk visited Bucharest to meet with his Romanian writers and to promote his novels. Orhan Pamuk is the winner of Nobel Prize for Literature and the best-selling author in Turkey. His books include: My Name is Red, The Museum of Innocence, The New Life, The White Castle, Istanbul, Memories of a City. At the event taking place at Romanian Atheneum several local celebrities were invited and a Nobel candidate, the writer Norman Manea.
Orhan Pamuk is not only a famous writer and a professor at Columbia University, but also a disputed figure. His remarks on the genocide Turkey committed against Armanians and Kurds almost brought Pamuk to prison. His books were publicly burnt in a rage of nationalistic feelings.
Nationalists do the opposite of serving their country
Orhan Pamuk had a clear take, stating that he mistrusts nationalists because they “only want to seduce the poor and the uneducated”. The nationalist movement, in Pamuk’s view, does not serve the nation by suppressing freedom of speech, cultural development and human rights.

Nationalism is even less understandable in Turkey, said Pamuk, since this was not even the case of gathering the forces of a nation against a conquering empire, quite contrary, Turks take great pride in their Ottoman heritage.

The most interesting intervention from the public was that of publicist Razvan Exarhu, who asked Pamuk whether he feels accomplished as a writer now that a compatriot, also a writer, tried to kill him, outraged by his writings. Pamuk, who faced prosecution of the Turkish state, said that the only damage that his Government ever managed to inflict on him was the fact that everybody is now asking him political questions when he is abroad.

Exarhu also managed to make everybody smile when telling he found out from Turkish speakers that the name Pamuk actually means “cotton”, which means that the writer has a huge advertising, with messages on all tee-shirts saying “Pamuk 100%”.

Marius Chivu, publicist for Dilema veche brought up the problem of translations, an interesting topic for an author traduced in 56 languages. In front of the audience was read a page from the book “My name is Red”, translated by Professor Luminita Munteanu; the applauses from the public convinced Pamuk that the musicality of his writing was not “lost in translation”.

Orhan Pamuk remains a cosmopolite author, attached to the cultural heritage of Mustafa Kema Ataturk, the general who modernized Turkey by force. At Atheneu, he confessed being brought up in a house full of books his father gathered, not noticing whether they were books of French or English origin. But he gladly returns to the Ottoman period, even for the pictural effect of that atmosphere.
Nobel Price winner, Orhan Pamuk has visited Romania and had a series of meetings and discussions with his readers and fellow writers. At the Romanian Atheneum the Turkish novelist met with Norman Manea, Emil Hurezeanu, Tudor Octavian, Dragos Bucurenci, Ovidiu Simonca and hundreds of readers.

Orhan Pamuk has won Nobel Price for Literature in 2006 and the Romanian public knows him from his novels: “My name is Red”, “The White Fortress”, “The Black Book”, and “The New Life”. Two other books are to be translated and printed by Curtea Veche Publishing House – “The Snow” and “The Museum of Innocence”.

In a country where the controversy between religious fundamentalists and defenders of a laic state is vivid, the writings of Pamuk created lively disputes and even brought him trials and death threats. Turkish public opinion was outraged by him admitting the genocide against Armenians during the Ottoman Empire and against the Kurd minority nowadays. So the topic of nationalism couldn’t be avoided during the meeting in Bucharest.
Pamuk is indeed a visual writer that would also want his books to keep their music when translated; he sometimes even sings the rhythm of his phrases while negotiating with his English translator. An aspect he holds dear is the movement from detail to high ideas that he noticed being mastered by Dostoevsky.

During his trip to Bucharest, Pamuk was accompanied by a little camera and explained the public he takes lots of pictures to show them at home. He is even amazed that not everybody is doing the same thing. Pamuk imagines a world where all the people had a tiny camera on their forehead and recorded their entire existence from the time of birth, or at least using it as a diary of their life.

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