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And the winner is: Orhan Pamuk

2006-10-15 2 min read Web marco

One of those serendipities in life: I had started reading “My Name Is Red,” by Orhan Pamuk. I would read it sparingly, because the writing was incredible and it was a pleasure to just revel on each page; maybe the mystery thriller aspect was not too forthcoming (I find the book still a little on the slow side, of course). In any case, I was about to write wonderful things about the interaction between the original writer (Pamuk) and his congenial translator, a native of Turkey that is to write his first novel.

No sooner do I do this, that NPR announces Mr. Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature. No sooner does that happen, that the government of Turkey issues a statement accusing the Nobel committee to have awarded the prize for political reasons. Turns out Mr. Pamuk is accused of being a treasonous Turkey-slanderer.

This, of course, is a strange turn of events, because Turkey would have been much better off celebrating the win. Maybe Mr. Pamuk has not described Turkey in all the glory a government typically wants, but there certainly is no slander that I can tell so far.

True enough, the accusation of slander is limited to the mentioning of the massacre of Armenians after World War I – of which a novel about medieval Turkey won’t mention much. Still, it is quite pointless to disawow such a prestigious win for a writer that is entirely focused on the country he is from, who is living in it. A country that surely could use some good publicity right now.