Orhan Pamuk


Granta, which began its modern incarnation in 1979, has published twelve Nobel literature laureates: Saul Bellow, Heinrich Böll, Joseph Brodsky, J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Günter Grass, Seamus Heaney, Doris Lessing, Gabriel García Márquez, V.S. Naipaul, Orhan Pamuk and Harold Pinter. Some of these writers found early acclaim in these pages. Many have had a long relationship with the magazine. Today we showcase the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, who won the Nobel in 2006.

Pamuk’s novels are most frequently set in Istanbul – where the author was born and where he still lives – a bustling, vibrant, hybrid city, poised sometimes uncomfortably between Europe and the Middle East, history and modernity, Western-style liberalism and Islamic conservatism, adaptation and tradition. The Nobel Committee praised Pamuk,  ‘who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures’. Pamuk is the only Turkish writer to win the prize. His fiction, much of which explores the fluidity of identity, is heavily influenced by both Western and Arabic literature. At once a local and a global writer, he has an enormous international readership.

Pamuk’s work has appeared in four issues of Granta, most recently in  Granta 85: ‘Hidden Histories’. For Granta 93: ‘God’s Own Countries’, Maureen Freely, who has been a close friend of Pamuk’s for many years and translated three of his books, conducted a lengthy and revealing interview with him, just days before he went on trial for ‘publicly denigrating Turkishness’. As Freely notes, ‘the better he has done in the outside world, the more controversial he has become at home. This is partly due to a powerful ambivalence about Turks who do well in the West, but also due to Pamuk’s controversial and widely covered views on human rights, the Kurds and Turkey’s power elites’. Read Freely’s interview here.

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