The Turkish writer, Orhan Pamuk, was a winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature. He passionately embraces his Turkish identity and sees himself as a bridge between the East and West. Pamuk's work is rooted in his beloved Istanbul, but he explores themes of universal human experience and yearning. An outspoken critic of those who limit free speech, he faced imprisonment in 2005 in Turkey and now lives in Mumbai. His eight novels include several international best sellers such as My Name is Red, Snow, and now The Museum of Innocence.
Reporting on the recent resignation of Turkey's highest ranking military officers, Christopher Hitchens explains, "cooperation between ostensibly secular and newly pious may have had something to do with a growing sense of shame among the educated secular citizenry of big cities like Istanbul, who always knew they could count on the army to uphold their rights but who didn't enjoy exerting the privilege. The fiction of Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's complex Nobelist and generally liberal author, has explored this paradox very well. His novel Snow is perhaps the best dress rehearsal for the argument.
Because of course Pamuk is also the most edgy spokesman for the rights of the Kurds and the Armenians, and of those whose very nationality has put them in collision with the state. He has been threatened with imprisonment under archaic laws forbidding the discussion of certain topics, and he must have noticed the high rate of death that has overcome dissidents, like Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink, who have exercised insufficient caution."
Nirmala Lakshman recently interviewed Pamuk in Mumbai on his life and work. Read excerpts from the interview here.