Orhan Pamuk is the 2006 Nobel Laureate in Literature. He is the author of many novels including The White Castle, The Black Book, The New Life, My Name is Red, Snow. His works of non fiction include :Istanbul: Memories of a City and Other Colors: Essays and A Story. His books have been translated into fifty languages. His new novel is The Museum of Innocence.
Orhan Pamuk honed his craft in one of the world’s great cities,
But in critiquing his own society, Orhan Pamuk does not reject its culture as he demonstrates in Istanbul: Memories of a City. Torn between the allure of the West and the weight of tradition, Orhan Pamuk’s artistic journey has mastered and embraced the achievements of the West, its enlightenment, and its artistic forms such as the novel. But he finds his authentic voice not by rejecting the traditions of Turkish culture but by interweaving its contributions with those of the West. In grappling with this tension, he has created some of the most important masterpieces of our time. As Pico Iyer writes in the New York Review of Books, “by drilling with such intensity and obsession into every corner of his own country's insecurities, Pamuk has given voice to nearly every society in the world torn between the longing to be global and to be itself.”
But there is another reason why Pamuk speaks to an even broader international audience today. As Nobel Laureaute Kenzaburo Oe reminded me in an interview, the great writers write from the periphery, write as the outsider in their own society, but also as an outsider in relation to the centers of world power and culture. Today, the center of gravity is shifting; the periphery is becoming the center. The sun is rising in the East. We live in a time then where the West itself is facing decline. Just look around. For that reason, Orhan Pamuk’s achievements will come to have even more meaning, especially for the West.
Orhan Pamuk writes “I sometimes think myself unlucky to have been born in an aging and impoverished city buried under the ashes of a ruined empire. But a voice inside me always insists this was really a piece of luck.” I would add, it is Our Luck, too.