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Orhan Pamuk:Hero or Traitor

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  • Orhan Pamuk:Hero or Traitor

    I decided to start this thread because I am always arguing with people in Turkey about Orhan Pamuk.And I want to learn your comments about him!!!

    Now I am reading ''Snow'' one of his best books.When my friends see me reading it they say ''Are you really reading'' Snow''?He is a traitor of his country.He recognizes Armenian Genocide.And they add:''Are you also a traitor and think like him?''I say ''Yes,I think like him,because he is a hero being brave enough to say the truths.''And I see the anger in their eyes.

    Also I can't read his books in public.Because there are so many racist Turks who can attack me just because of reading his books.I am also hiding his books in school because teachers can give me lower marks if they see.(most of them)So I can say living in Turkey is hard.

    Here some information about him:
    A)He is hero
    B)He is traitor

  • #2
    Pamuk was born into a wealthy family; his father was the first CEO of IBM Turkey. He was educated at the American high school Robert College in Istanbul. Then he attended an architectural program at the Istanbul Technical University, because of family pressures to be an engineer or architect. However, he dropped out after three years to become a full-time writer. Pamuk graduated from the Institute of Journalism at the University of Istanbul in 1977. He was a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York City from 1985 to 1988, a period which also included a stint as visiting fellow at the University of Iowa. He then returned to Istanbul.

    Pamuk married Aylin Turegen in 1982, but the couple divorced in 2001. They have a daughter named Rüya. Pamuk continues to reside in Istanbul.

    Pamuk started writing regularly in 1974. His first novel, Karanlık ve Işık (Darkness and Light) was a co-winner of the 1979 Milliyet Press Novel Contest (Mehmet Eroğlu was the other winner). This novel was published with the title Cevdet Bey ve Oğulları (Mr. Cevdet and His Sons) in 1982, and won the Orhan Kemal Novel Prize in 1983. It tells the story of three generations of a wealthy Istanbul family living in Nişantaşı, the district of Istanbul where Pamuk grew up.

    Pamuk won a number of critical prizes for his early work, including the 1984 Madarali Novel Prize for his second novel Sessiz Ev (The Silent House) and the 1991 Prix de la Découverte Européenne for the French translation of this novel. His historical novel Beyaz Kale (The White Castle), published in Turkish in 1985, won the 1990 Independent Award for Foreign Fiction and extended his reputation abroad. The New York Times Book Review stated, "A new star has risen in the east--Orhan Pamuk." He started experimenting with postmodern techniques in his novels, a change from the strict naturalism of his early works.

    Popular success took a bit longer to come to Pamuk, but his 1990 novel Kara Kitap (The Black Book) became one of the most controversial and popular readings in Turkish literature, due to its complexity and richness. In 1992, he wrote the screenplay for the movie Gizli Yüz (Secret Face), based on Kara Kitap and directed by a prominent Turkish director, Ömer Kavur. Pamuk's fourth novel Yeni Hayat (New Life), caused a sensation in Turkey upon its 1995 publication and became the fastest-selling book in Turkish history. By this time, Pamuk had also become a high-profile figure in Turkey, due to his support for Kurdish political rights. In 1995, Pamuk was among a group of authors tried for writing essays that criticized Turkey's treatment of the Kurds. In 1999, Pamuk published his story book Öteki Renkler (The Other Colors).

    Pamuk's international reputation continued to increase when he published Benim Adım Kırmızı (My Name Is Red) in 2000. The novel blends mystery, romance, and philosophical puzzles in a setting of 16th century Istanbul. It opens a window into the reign of Ottoman Sultan Murat III in nine snowy winter days of 1591, inviting the reader to experience the tension between East and West from a breathlessly urgent perspective. My Name Is Red has been translated into 24 languages and won international literature's most lucrative prize, the IMPAC Dublin Award in 2003.

    Asked the question “What impact did winning the IMPAC award (currently $127,000) have on your life and your work?“, Pamuk replied “Nothing changed in my life since I work all the time. I've spent 30 years writing fiction. For the first 10 years, I worried about money and no one asked how much money I made. The second decade I spent money and no one was asking about that. And I've spent the last 10 years with everyone expecting to hear how I spend the money, which I will not do.”

    Pamuk's most recent novel is Kar in 2002 (English translation, Snow, 2004), which explores the conflict between Islamism and Westernism in modern Turkey. The New York Times listed Snow as one of its Ten Best Books of 2004. He also published a memoir/travelogue İstanbul-Hatıralar ve Şehir in 2003 (English version, Istanbul-Memories and the City, 2005). Orhan Pamuk won in 2005 the 25,000 Euro Peace Prize of the German Book Trade for his literary work in which "Europe and Islamic Turkey find a place for one another. The most prestigious German book prize was awarded in the Paul's Church in Frankfurt.

    Pamuk's books are characterized by a confusion or loss of identity brought on in part by the conflict between European and Islamic values. They are often disturbing or unsettling, but include complex, intriguing plots and characters of great depth. His works are also redolent with discussion and fascination with the creative arts, such as literature and painting. Pamuk's work often touches on the deep-rooted tension between East and West and tradition and secularism.

    Criminal case

    Pamuk's statements
    The criminal charges against Pamuk resulted from remarks he made concerning the Armenian Genocide (1915-17) during an interview in February 2005 with the Swiss publication Das Magazin, a weekly supplement to a number of Swiss daily newspapers: the Tages-Anzeiger, the Basler Zeitung, the Berner Zeitung and the Solothurner Tagblatt. In the interview, Pamuk stated, "Thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it."

    Pamuk has said that after the Swiss interview was published, he was subjected to a hate campaign that forced him to flee the country. He returned later in 2005, however, to face the charges against him. In an interview with BBC News, he said that he wanted to defend freedom of speech, which was Turkey's only hope for coming to terms with its history: "What happened to the Ottoman Armenians in 1915 was a major thing that was hidden from the Turkish nation; it was a taboo. But we have to be able to talk about the past." [2]

    In June 2005, Turkey introduced a new penal code including Article 301, which states: "A person who explicitly insults being a Turk, the Republic or Turkish Grand National Assembly, shall be imposed to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of six months to three years." Pamuk was retroactively charged with violating this law in the interview he had given four months earlier. In October, after the prosecution had begun, Pamuk reiterated his views in a speech given during an award ceremony in Germany: "I repeat, I said loud and clear that one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in Turkey." [3]

    Because Pamuk was charged under an ex post facto law, Turkish law required that his prosecution be approved by the Ministry of Justice. [4] A few minutes after Pamuk's trial started on 16 December, the judge found that this approval had not yet been received and suspended the proceedings. In an interview published in the Akşam newspaper the same day, Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek said he had not yet received Pamuk's file but would study it thoroughly once it came. [5]

    The Turkish news agency BIA reported that nationalist protesters outside the courtroom booed when they heard of the trial's suspension and attacked Pamuk's car as he was driven away. [6] Another group of protesters who were peacefully demonstrating against Pamuk with no act of violence was led by an internationally famous Turkish artist and writer, Bedri Baykam [7].

    On December 29, 2005, Turkish state prosecuters dropped the charge that Pamuk insulted Turkey's armed forces, although the charge of 'insulting Turkishness' remained. [8]

    Public reaction

    International support
    The charges against Pamuk caused an international outcry and led to questions in some circles about Turkey's proposed entry into the European Union. On 30 November, the European Parliament announced that it would send a delegation of five MEPs, led by Camiel Eurlings, to observe the trial. [9] EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn subsequently stated that the Pamuk case would be a "litmus test" of Turkey's commitment to the EU's membership criteria. [10]

    On 1 December, Amnesty International released a statement calling for Article 301 to be repealed and for Pamuk and six other people awaiting trial under the act to be freed. [11] PEN American Center also denounced the charges against Pamuk, stating: 'PEN finds it extraordinary that a state that has ratified both the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights, both of which see freedom of expression as central, should have a Penal Code that includes a clause that is so clearly contrary to these very same principles.' [12]

    On 13 December, eight world-renowned authors -- Jose Saramago, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Günter Grass, Umberto Eco, Carlos Fuentes, Juan Goytisolo, John Updike and Mario Vargas Llosa -- issued a joint statement supporting Pamuk and decrying the charges against him as a violation of human rights. [13]

    Criticism of Pamuk
    Some of his Turkish colleagues attacked him for concentrating his criticism against "Turkey and Turks", and for not being equally critical of other governments. Also, some observers were suspicious of Pamuk's real intentions behind this statement and claimed that he was putting on a show in order to win the Nobel prize for literature which later went to British playwright Harold Pinter, drawing attention to the fact that Pamuk had never before shown sensitivity for the Kurdish problem, or the Armenian question. Some Turkish commentators noted that praising Pamuk not for his writing but his statement on Kurds and Armenians was not only erroneous in this sense, but also unfair to people such as Yaşar Kemal, another world-famous Turkish writer who too had faced many charges throughout his writing life for defending rights of the Kurds as well as many other people who have dedicated a life-time to research minorities or been jailed to defend minority rights. The coincidence of the time that media began writing about Pamuk's statements and the time of major negotiations with EU also resulted some controversy in Turkey. Others said that Pamuk's case was more akin to libel as in other Western Democracies [14] than it is to Freedom of Speech.

    Some argued that BIA (acronym for Independent Communication Network in Turkish), which reported on the trial, was funded by the European Union and was therefore biased.

    In a review of Snow in The Atlantic, Christopher Hitchens complained that "from reading Snow one might easily conclude that all the Armenians of Anatolia had decided for some reason to pick up and depart en masse, leaving their ancestral properties for tourists to gawk at."

    However, John Updike in The New Yorker for the same book wrote: "“To produce a major work so frankly troubled and provocatively bemused and, against the grain of the author’s usual antiquarian bent, entirely contemporary in its setting and subjects, took the courage that art sometimes visits upon even its most detached practitioners.”

    Charges dropped
    On January 22, 2006, the Justice Ministry refused to issue an approval of the prosecution, saying that they had no authority to open a case against Pamuk under the new penal code. [15] The ministry left the decision of whether to proceed with the trial to the local court, which ruled the next day that the case could not continue without Justice Ministry approval. [16] Pamuk's lawyer, Haluk İnanıcı, subsequently confirmed that charges had been dropped. [17]

    The announcement occurred in a week when the EU was scheduled to begin a review of the Turkish justice system. [18]

    EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn welcomed the dropping of charges, saying 'This is obviously good news for Mr Pamuk, but it's also good news for freedom of expression in Turkey.' However, some EU representatives expressed disappointment that the justice ministry had rejected the prosecution on a technicality rather than on principle. Reuters quoted an unnamed diplomat as saying, 'It is good the case has apparently been dropped, but the justice ministry never took a clear position or gave any sign of trying to defend Pamuk.' [19]

    Meanwhile, the lawyer Kemal Kerinçsiz, who had led the effort to try Pamuk, said he would appeal the decision, saying, 'Orhan Pamuk must be punished for insulting Turkey and Turkishness, it is a grave crime and it should not be left unpunished.' [20]

    Bibliography in English
    The White Castle, translated by Victoria Holbrook, Manchester (UK): Carcanet Press Limited, 1990; New York: George Braziller, 1991 [original title: Beyaz Kale]
    The Black Book, translated by Güneli Gün, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994 [original title: Kara Kitap]
    The New Life, translated by Güneli Gün, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997 [original title: Yeni Hayat]
    My Name is Red, translated by Erdağ M. Göknar, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001 [original title: Benim Adım Kırmızı]
    Snow, translated by Maureen Freely, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004 [original title: Kar]
    Istanbul: Memories and the City, translated by Maureen Freely, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005 [original title: İstanbul: Hatıralar ve Şehir]

    Bibliography in Turkish
    Cevdet Bey ve Oğulları (Mr. Cevdet and His Sons), novel, Istanbul: Can Yayınları, 1982
    Sessiz Ev (The Silent House) , novel, Istanbul: Can Yayınları, 1983
    Beyaz Kale (The White Castle), novel, Istanbul: Can Yayınları, 1985
    Kara Kitap (The Black Book), novel, Istanbul: Can Yayınları, 1990
    Gizli Yuz, screenplay, Istanbul: Can Yayınları, 1992
    Yeni Hayat (The New Life), novel, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 1995
    Benim Adım Kırmızı (My Name is Red), novel, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 1998
    Öteki Renkler (The Other Colors), 1999
    Kar (Snow), novel, Istanbul: İletişim Yayinlari, 2002
    İstanbul: Hatıralar ve Şehir (Istanbul: Memories and the City), memories, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2003

    1979 Milliyet Press Novel Contest Award (Turkey) for his novel Karanlık ve Işık (co-winner)
    1983 Orhan Kemal Novel Prize (Turkey) for his novel "Mr. Cevdet and His Sons"
    1984 Madarali Novel Prize (Turkey) for his novel Sessiz Ev
    1990 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (United Kingdom) for his novel Beyaz Kale
    1991 Prix de la Découverte Européenne (France) for the French translation of Sessiz Ev
    2002 Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger (France) for his novel My Name Is Red
    2002 Premio Grinzane Cavour (Italy) for his novel My Name Is Red
    2003 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (Ireland) for his novel My Name Is Red
    2005 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Germany)
    2005 Prix Medicis Etranger (France) for his novel Snow


    • #3
      Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's best-selling novelist, has more than his fair share of critics. The country's Islamic intellectuals accuse him of exploiting religious and historical themes all in the name of Western post-modernism. At the same time Turkey's secular establishment--composed of ardent westernizers--is perturbed that Pamuk's irreverence for state ideology should find so appreciative an audience in the West itself. Some condemn his books as difficult and self-absorbed. Yet Pamuk's novels are nothing short of a publishing phenomenon in Turkey, and the government recently tried--and failed--to present him with its highest cultural accolade. "For years I have been criticizing the state for putting authors in jail, for only trying to solve the Kurdish problem by force, and for its narrow-minded nationalism," says Pamuk of his refusal last December to accept the prestigious title of state artist. "I don't know why they tried to give me the prize."

      Pamuk's rejection of state honors is the most tangible example of why some find him disturbing and why still others--particularly a younger generation--find his low-key rebelliousness so attractive. His writing provides an antidote to those who see Turkey as caught in a war to the death between Islam and secularism, East and West. "That Turkey has two souls is not a sickness," he says. He does worry that a Turkey mesmerized by itself is becoming isolated from the world. He is an outspoken critic on issues like human rights. "Geographically we are part of Europe," he muses as he gazes out of the huge picture window in his office that overlooks the Bosporus to the Asian side of Istanbul, "but politically?"

      Pamuk's own ability to straddle two continents has led to huge commercial success at home and critical acclaim abroad. He is by far the country's best-selling author and his books are now translated into 20 languages. His first novel, Cevdet Bey and His Sons, a dynastic saga of the Istanbul bourgeoisie, appeared in 1982 after an eight-year search for a publisher. Subsequent books have abandoned all pretense of classical narrative, but there are certain subjects that recur, most notably the city of Istanbul itself, a place Pamuk describes as having "no symmetry, no sense of geometry, no two lines in parallel."

      The same might be said of Pamuk's style. The White Castle (published in 1979 but translated in 1990), the story of a Turkish master and his European slave, is a perfect example of his melding of the modern with the traditional. By the end of the novel the two main characters are indistinguishable. One of them dies but we are not quite sure which. The Black Book (1990), a mystery that arrives at no obvious solution, confirmed his international reputation.

      His novels are rich with allusion to old Sufi stories and traditional Islamic tales as well as the tinsel of popular culture. The point seems to be that a person does not have to abandon the past in order to be part of the future. His latest novel, Call Me Crimson, returns to the 16th century and tells of murder and artistic intrigues among the Islamic miniaturists in the Ottoman court. Its success, by Turkish standards, was astronomic and his publishers actually opened a court action against a newspaper which refused to believe published sales figures of 100,000 copies. The book sold half as many again.

      Pamuk is the Turkish novelist of his generation best equipped to navigate the mainstream of contemporary European literature. He is delighted that what many find new and experimental about his novels are often rediscoveries of traditional forms. His work is a rejection of an intellectual tradition that aspired to be Western by forgetting about the past. "If you try to repress memories, something always comes back," Pamuk says. "I'm what comes back". From the Sep. 13, 1999 issue of TIME magazine


      • #4
        "When my sales went up my welcome from the Turkish literary scene disappeared"

        Istanbul, Turkey

        From an American school in Istanbul Pamuk went on to study architecture at Istanbul Technical University for three years. He then enrolled on a journalism course at Istanbul University in order to put off his military service.

        Other jobs
        Although Pamuk's family did not approve of his decision to abandon his architectural studies in order to become a full-time writer, his father did support him with 'pocket money' until he was 32. He also spent three years as a visiting scholar in Iowa.

        Did you know?
        In 1998 Pamuk refused to accept the prestigious title of "state artist" from the Turkish government. He said that if he accepted it he could not "look in the face of people I care about".

        Critical verdict
        Although Pamuk started writing full-time in the mid 1970s, he did not achieve popular success until the 1990s - and then he swiftly became the fastest-selling author in Turkish history. He is unusual in achieving both mass market success and critical acclaim for his complex, post-modern novels which tackle big themes - cultural change, identity crises, east v west, tradition v modernity - head-on. International recognition of his work came more recently, with the Irish Impac award in 2003, followed by the German book trade Peace prize and the French Prix Médicis étranger. He was also widely believed to have been a serious contender for the 2005 Nobel prize for literature, which went to Harold Pinter. However, it is for his political travails that Pamuk's name is becoming best known outside his home country. Following remarks made during an interview with a Swiss magazine in February 2005 concerning the alleged genocide of Kurds and Armenians in Anatolia between 1915 and 1917, he was charged by Turkish state prosecutors with "insulting Turkishness" - a new offence which carries a prison sentence of up to three years as a penalty. Pamuk's trial opened on December 16 2005 and was immediately rescheduled for February 7 2006. Tensions over the case in Turkey are running high - Pamuk has said that he was initially forced to flee the country because of a hate campaign being waged against him - but there has also been an international outcry, with Amnesty International, PEN (the worldwide association of writers) and a collection of renowned authors (including Gabriel García Márquez, John Updike, Gunter Grass and Umbert Eco) denouncing Turkey's actions.

        Recommended works
        Pamuk is best known outside his own country for his two most recent novels - My Name is Red (2000) and Snow (2002, English translation 2004). The former, which won the Impac award, is a murder mystery and love story set among the artistic intrigues of the Islamic miniaturists of the Ottoman court in 16th-century Istanbul. A rich and complex work narrated by a range of voices, it explores the tension between east and west, Islam and Christianity. The critically-acclaimed Snow, a thriller set in the 1990s that features a poet who is caught up in a military coup, is the first of Pamuk's novels to tackle politics directly. While either of these would be a reasonable introduction to Pamuk's style and primary concerns, new readers may be better advised to start off with The White Castle (1985). An allegory of two doppelgangers, it is his shortest and arguably most accessible work, but its focus on identity-swapping introduces a key theme of Pamuk's work. Meanwhile, there is no better introduction to Pamuk's own background than Istanbul: Memories and the City, the writer's love letter to the city of his childhood and memoir of his early life.

        Pamuk acknowledges the influence of Dante on his novel The New Life and Joyce's Ulysses on The Black Book. John Updike has compared Pamuk's intellect and descriptive skill to Proust, but writers more commonly cited as the progenitors of Pamuk's style of postmodern narrative trickery are Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Garcia Márquez and Salman Rushdie.

        Now read on
        Staying within Turkey, another well-known writer-in-translation is Yasar Kamal. Try his Mehmet, My Hawk, the story of a boy growing up in Anatolia. For background on the country, Lords of the Horizon: a History of the Ottoman Empire by Jason Goodwin is worth a dip. The same author has a novel due out, too - The Janissary Tree is described as a detective thriller set in 19th-century Istanbul. Ranging more widely on the fiction front, Panos Karnezis's tale of a dissolute Greek army brigade making their way across the Anatolian desert, The Maze, may appeal, as may his short story collection, Little Infamies. Umberto Eco would, of course, be a safe choice. Readers who are attracted by Pamuk's political stance may like to explore the poetry of the late Nazim Hikmet, who brought modernism to Turkish literature but was stripped of his Turkish nationality in 1959 for criticising the political system.

        In 1992 Pamuk wrote the screenplay for a film, Gizli Yuz, which was derived from his novel Kara Kitap (published in 1990, translated as The Black Book in 1995).


        • #5
          'I stand by my words. And even more, I stand by my right to say them...'

          When the acclaimed Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk recalled his country's mass killing of Armenians, he was forced to flee abroad. As he prepares to accept a peace award in Frankfurt, he tells Maureen Freely why he had to break his nation's biggest taboo

          Sunday October 23, 2005
          The Observer

          Five years ago, Orhan Pamuk wrote a novel about a poet who is snared in a political intrigue from which there is no escape. Nine months ago, Turkey's most famous novelist was pulled into just such an intrigue.
          It began with an off-the-cuff remark in an interview with a Swiss newspaper. While discussing curbs on freedom of expression in Turkey, Pamuk said that 'a million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in this country and I'm the only one who dares to talk about it'.

          He was soon to be reminded why. Although most of the world acknowledges the genocide as historical fact, the official Turkish line has been that 'only' a few hundred thousand died during the internecine conflicts of the First World War. To suggest otherwise - or even to use the word genocide - is to insult the nation's founding myth and therefore Turkey's honour.
          So the day after his interview appeared, the Turkish press launched a fierce attack on Pamuk, branding him a traitor, accusing him of having used the virtually illegal word genocide (although he had not) and inviting 'civil society' to 'silence' him. Following several death threats, he went into hiding abroad. He returned to Turkey late last spring, hoping it had all blown over. It had not. Last August, an Istanbul public prosecutor charged him with the 'public denigration of Turkish identity'. The trial is set for 16 December. If convicted, Pamuk faces three years in prison.

          When the story broke in early September, it made headlines all over the world, with writers, politicians, academics and human rights groups joining the writers' organisation PEN to condemn the prosecution. The governments of Europe were aghast, with the case raising serious questions about Turkey's attempt to join the EU. As his translator, I was only too aware that this was a bitterly ironic twist for Pamuk, who has long been a supporter of Turkey in Europe and European-style social democracy in Turkey.

          Like many of his friends, I suspected that his prosecution was the work of nationalists in the judiciary who want neither. Thanks to another law, Pamuk was obliged to keep his own views on the matter private. He faces an even longer prison sentence if he talks about his case before it comes to trial.

          Meanwhile, all of Turkey is arguing about the Armenians. Last month a group of Turkish scholars broke 90 years of official silence, braving court orders, death threats and fierce condemnation in the right-wing press to hold a conference in Istanbul. For the first time, Turks dared to ask Turks what happened to the Ottoman Armenians. This had a huge impact on public opinion. Although many maintain that the genocide was a fiction created by the nation's enemies, it is at least no longer dangerous to question the official line.

          It was in this context that Pamuk decided a week ago to give his first interview on Turkish television since his life became a novel. It provoked strong and varied responses, with many applauding his defiance and others wishing he had been more defiant still. In one right-wing newspaper, selected quotes were rearranged to suggest that Pamuk had retracted his original statement, although in fact he reiterated it.

          In some reports, there was also the suggestion that he had softened his statement in the hope it might lead the authorities to drop his case. A similarly worded article that had no byline found its way into the Guardian and other newspapers across Europe last Monday.

          And so the noose tightens. What to do? Speak out and risk a longer sentence? Or stay silent and let parties unknown feed the world lies? When I met Pamuk yesterday in Frankfurt, where he is to be awarded the German Peace Prize, he was in no doubt the time had come to speak out - about the Armenians, about the law under which he has been charged, about curbs on free expression in Turkey and, last but not least, about his case.

          'It goes without saying that I stand by my words,' he told me. 'And even more, I stand by my right to say them.' He went on to point out that the right to free speech was guaranteed by the Turkish constitution and that more and more people in Turkey were keen to exercise that right. 'I am very encouraged by this conference. I'm very grateful to courageous scholars such as Halil Berktay, Murat Belge and Taner Akcam who have been researching this subject thoroughly and honestly for so many years and who spoke the unsayable truth. Most of all, I'm pleased that the taboo - what happened to the Ottoman Armenians - is beginning to crack.'

          It was, he warned, going to be a long and painful process. 'We are confronted with an immense human tragedy and immense human suffering we did not learn about at school. So it is a fragile subject.'

          Which brings us to the word genocide. It is, he reminded me, a contentious subject even among the Turkish historians who believe there was planned and systematic slaughter. Those whose primary aim is to educate the Turkish public point out that to use the word is to shut down any possibility of a national debate.

          'I said loud and clear that one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in Turkey, and I stand by that. For me, these are scholarly issues,' said Pamuk. 'I am a novelist. I address human suffering and pain and it is obvious, even in Turkey, that there was an immense hidden pain which we now have to face.' He went on to remind me that the biggest obstacle right now was Article 301. This is a new law and how it found its way into Turkey's new and supposedly EU-friendly penal code is a subject of heated speculation.

          Earlier this month, Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was tried under the same article by the same public prosecutor who brought the case against Pamuk. He was found guilty and given a suspended sentence.

          'Dink is the most prominent representative of Istanbul's Armenians and after his case and mine it is obvious that if we are going to enjoy freedom of expression in Turkey, Article 301 should be reconsidered,' said Pamuk. 'This law and another law about "general national interests" were put into the new penal code as secret guns. They were not displayed to the international community but nicely kept in a drawer, ready for action in case they decided to hit someone in the head. These laws should be changed, and changed fast, before the EU and the international community puts pressure on Turkey to do so. We have to learn to reform before others warn us.'

          But what has Pamuk himself learned from the last nine months? 'In the beginning I felt very isolated,' he admitted. 'But I've seen so many people back me, in Turkey and in the international community. I am flattered and honoured to be the focus of all this concern. It is thanks to their support that I can defend freedom of speech.'

          This, he said, was the burning issue in Turkey, and it was, and would continue to be, a subject dear to his heart. In his speech today he will be arguing that the novelist's most important political act is the imaginative exploration of the 'other', the 'stranger', the 'enemy who resides in all our minds'. Politics in the art of the novel is the author's identification with the downtrodden and the marginalised. The Kurd in Turkey and the Turk in Germany.

          And the prize? 'I hope it is not just a political gesture but also a celebration of my years of humble and devoted service to the novel. I have been writing novels for 30 years, like a clerk. Though, unfortunately, not in the last month. I hope I can return to my desk soon.' But Pamuk is not looking for a pardon: 'I'm going to face this case.'

          In this regard, at least, he hopes to part ways with Ka, the poet in his novel Snow. Pulled into a political intrigue and feeling 'trapped on all sides', Ka's response was to try to run away. 'He was an unhappy person who was forced to be cynical,' Pamuk said. 'But I am a happier person. I embrace the responsibility that has fallen on me and will pursue this to the end.'

          Pamuk: a life in writing

          Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul on 7 June 1952 and, apart from two years in New York, he has spent his life in the same district of the city and now lives in the building where he was brought up.

          His first novel to appear in English was called The White Castle, about an Ottoman astrologer who buys a Venetian astronomer as a slave.

          His novel My Name is Red, set in the 16th century, tells of murder and artistic intrigues among the Islamic miniaturists in the Ottoman court. Its success, by Turkish standards, was astronomic and his publishers opened a court action against a newspaper which refused to believe published sales figures of 100,000 copies. The book sold half as many again.

          His seventh and most critically acclaimed novel is Snow. It deals with what happens in the margins of the Western world.The Canadian author Margaret Atwood called Snow 'an engrossing feat of tale-spinning and essential reading for our times'.

          His books have been burned at a nationalist demonstration, and his photograph was shredded at a rally. Hürriyet, Turkey's largest newspaper, called Pamuk an 'abject creature'


          • #6
            I am waiting for your comments about him!!!


            • #7
              I didn't vote ... Because ...

              I think that this is a question for Turks...

              To me, Pamuk is not a Hero and certainly not a Traitor ...
              Orhan Pamuk is a "Bravely Honst, and open minded" man ... Which is another "Rare" type of people
              [COLOR=SandyBrown][SIZE=4][B][FONT=Garamond]We Still Waiting To Rest In Peace ....
              We Owe Them Justice ...[/FONT][/B][/SIZE][/COLOR]
              [I][FONT=Century Gothic][COLOR=SandyBrown]" Armenian Genocide Victims " [/COLOR] [/FONT][/I]


              • #8
                He is not a hero or a traitor. He is a coward, not because he said "30.000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians killed in this country" but rather he did not participate into discussions in TV channels that he was invited to represent his case. The idiot turned his back to the people to whom he is lecturing about past and thus posseses a responsiblity. If you wont talk with Turkish people about this, what is the point making a claim and running away with a few foreign diplomats? Who will listen to you in that way? What good such an action will make? All the things he has said and done, has promoted his popularity in west nothing more....
                It is wrong to be French- Al Bundy


                • #9
                  I voted that he is a hero because he recognizes the Armenian Genocide, and has written a very influential book about it which forces people to see what happened.

                  There is nothing to be gained from his going to Turkey and being imprisoned, or worse killed, so why does not doing it make him a coward?


                  • #10
                    There is nothing to be gained from his going to Turkey and being imprisoned, or worse killed, so why does not doing it make him a coward?
                    His case has been dropped, also noone will kill him we all know that. Besides what is the point making such a statement if you will not fight to make your point to the people that you are trying explain your case? I will not make accusations, insults to Orhan Pamuk, but I dont see why he should be a traitor or a hero. To me he is a guy who is the mouthing other people's words and running away from his own people thus a coward. However, everyone has the freedom to name him a hero or a traitor. My vote goes to none.
                    It is wrong to be French- Al Bundy