One of the most profound way to get to know Turkey is, without doubt, to step into the world of Nobel Prize-winning Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk’s novels. Pamuk is an important author recognised world-wide for his storytelling genius, presenting the history of this country through tales of generation conflict and East-West problems in a culturally universal context. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006, and in the same year was voted by TIME magazine as one of “the world’s 100 most influential people”. Lovers of literature already knew his work but he has now succeeded in reaching a more widespread audience. Pamuk’s literary works have been translated into sixty-three languages and has published thirteen millions copies. Before receiving the Nobel prize, he had been awarded with the Prix Du Meilleur Livre Etranger in France, the Grinzane Cavour in Italy (2002) and the International Impac-Dublin award in 2003. In addition, his novel titled ‘Snow’ was selected as one of the best 10 books of 2004 by The New York Times Book Review.
Orhan Pamuk’s novels are considered to be in the post-modern novel category. In her book, ‘Novels from Don Quixote to Present Day’, one of Turkey’s most important literary historians, Jale Parla, reviewed Pamuk’s work in terms of comparative literature and noted that he had an important role in the development of Turkish literature. Pamuk especially uses the problems of East-West as subject matter in his novels. In his ‘The Black Book’ novel, he excites you with the atmosphere so that you can feel Istanbul, its streets and its history. Pamuk is also known for shedding light on history and in his book ‘Cevdet Bey and Sons’, he writes of three generations of a family living in the Nisantasi neighborhood which is known for its Western lifestyle. The book is based on his own life as someone who grew up in a large family in Nisantasi. By describing not only events but himself as well, Pamuk has won the admiration of readers. One of his most popular books is ‘New Life’ which tells the story of university students influenced by a mysterious book. ‘My Name Is Red’ is a story about Ottoman and Persian miniaturists.
Orhan Pamuk was born in 1952 and grew up in Istanbul’s Nisantasi. Throughout his childhood, Pamuk painted and desired to be a painter. He studied architecture but dropped out to study journalism. However, Pamuk worked as neither an architect nor a journalist and he decided to become a writer. He started writing in 1974. Pamuk has won many awards for his novels, and for a time he wrote a column in the Taraf newspaper. In May 2007, Pamuk was on the jury at the 60th Cannes Film Festival. Although Pamuk has written articles on issues such as freedom of rights from time to time, with a criticizing point of view, he has remained distant from politics. Apart from a brief period away, the author has spent his life living in various parts of Istanbul and continues to live in Istanbul.
Nobel laureate Pamuk’s books are an important source and provide a meaningful insight into Istanbul for those who wish to read about it in literature. The author not only draws upon the characteristics, events and problems of his own country in his novels, but also piques the reader’s interest with an avantgard style of writing about different cultures and universal problems. Orhan Pamuk’s books are a definite must for those who like Turkish literature and love Istanbul.