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Turkish Writer Wins 2006 Nobel Literature Prize

Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk poses in front of a poster showing himself during Frankfurt's international book fair in 2005.
Torsten Silz
AFP/Getty Images
Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk poses in front of a poster showing himself during Frankfurt's international book fair in 2005.

The winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature is Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk. He's best known in this country for his novels My Name Is Red and Snow.

Orhan Pamuk was already an internationally acclaimed writer when his government accused him of "insulting Turkishness."

"I just made a statement about one of our great taboos: what happened to the Ottoman Empire's Armenians in 1915," Pamuk told NPR in 2005. "This is a taboo we still cannot discuss."

A seemingly offhand comment the author made to a Swiss newspaper resulted in charges that could have led up to three years in prison. The charges were later dropped.

Pamuk is no stranger to controversy. He's defended fellow Turkish writers, and Salman Rushdie after the publication of The Satanic Verses.

Pamuk's novels are bestsellers in his homeland. And he's admired worldwide for his delicate explorations of East-West relations.

The Swedish Academy said that, in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city of Instanbul, Pamuk has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures.

"This glorious imperial city [Istanbul] went into ruins," Pamuk said. "I spent my childhood in those ruins, and I wrote about how beautiful it is."

Pamuk has said he's always seen himself as a novelist, rather than a social commentator, someone comfortable transposing the real and the fantastic.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.

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