ORHAN PAMUK (1952)
Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul in 1952 and grew up in a large family similar to those which he describes in his novels Cevdet Bey and His Sons and The Black Book, in the wealthy westernised district of Nisantaşı. As he writes in his autobiographical book Istanbul, from his childhood until the age of 22 he devoted himself largely to painting and dreamed of becoming an artist. After graduating from the secular American Robert College in Istanbul, he studied architecture at Istanbul Technical University for three years, but abandoned the course when he gave up his ambition to become an architect and artist. He continued his study in Journalism to graduate from Istanbul University, but never worked as a journalist. At the age of 23 Pamuk decided to become a novelist, and giving up everything else retreated into his flat and began to write.
His first novel Cevdet Bey and His Sons was published seven years later in 1982. The novel was awarded both the Orhan Kemal and Milliyet Literary Prizes. The following year, Pamuk published his novel The Silent House (1983), which in French translation won the 1991 Prix de la découverte européene. The White Castle (1985) about the frictions and friendship between a Venetian slave and an Ottoman scholar was published in English and many other languages from 1990 onwards, bringing Pamuk his first international fame. The same year Pamuk went to America, where he was a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York from 1985 to 1988. It was there that he wrote most of his novel The Black Book, in which the streets, past, chemistry and texture of Istanbul are described through the story of a lawyer seeking his missing wife. This novel was published in Turkey in 1990, and in French translation won the Prix France Culture. The Black Book enlarged his fame both in Turkey and internationally as an author at once popular and experimental, and able to write about past and present with the same intensity. In 1991 he wrote a script for the film "Hidden Face," based on a one-page story in The Black Book.
His novel The New Life, about young university students influenced by a mysterious book, was published in Turkey in 1994 and became one of the most widely read books in Turkish literature. My Name Is Red, about Ottoman and Persian artists and their ways of seeing and portraying the non-western world, told through a love story and family story, was published in 1998. This novel won the French Prix Du Meilleur Livre Etranger, the Italian Grinzane Cavour (2002) and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (2003). From the mid-1990s Pamuk took a critical stance towards the Turkish state in articles about human rights and freedom of thought, although he took little interest in politics. In 1999 a selection of his articles on literature and culture written for newspapers and magazines in Turkey and abroad, together with a selection of writings from his private notebooks, was published under the title Other Colours. Snow, which he describes as “my first and last political novel,” was published in 2002. In this book set in the small city of Kars in northeastern Turkey, he experimented with a new type of ′political novel,′ telling the story of violence and tension between political Islamists, soldiers, secularists, and Kurdish and Turkish nationalists.
In 2008 he published The Museum of Innocence, a novel about a man’s lifelong infatuation with a young woman and his attempt to build a museum housing the objects associated with his love. In 2012 he established the Masumiyet Müzesi (The Museum of Innocence) in the Çukurcuma neighborhood of Istanbul. The catalogue of the museum, The Innocence of Objects, was published the same year. Pamuk’s second collection of essays was published in Turkey in 2010 under the title of Fragments of the Landscape, while his Charles Norton Eliot lectures at Harvard in 2009-2010 were compiled as a book entitled The Naive and The Sentimental Novelist (2011).
Apart from three years in New York, Pamuk has spent all his life in the same streets and district of Istanbul, and he now lives in the building where he was raised. His books have been translated into 61 languages. He has received numerous international awards including The Peace Prize in Germany (2005), the Le Prix Médicis étranger in France (2005), the Richarda Huck Prize (2005), and Le Prix Méditerranée étranger in France (2006), Norman Mailer Prize, Lifetime Achievement in the USA (2010), The European Museum of the Year Award in Estonia (2014) and the 8th Erdal Öz Literature Award for his novel "Kafamda Bir Tuhaflık" in Turkey (2015). In 2006, Pamuk received the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts, an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as the Chiese Academy for Social Sciences. He holds an honorary doctorate from Tilburg University. Pamuk gives lectures once a year at Columbia University.
2015, the 8th Erdal Öz Literature Award for his novel "A Strangeness in My Mind" (Turkey)
2014, Helena Vaz da Silva European Award for Raising Public Awareness on Cultural Heritage
2014, The Mary Lynn Kotz Award (USA) for "The Innocence of Objects"
2014, Tabernakul Prize (FYR Macedonia)
2014, The European Museum of the Year Award (Estonia)
2012, Sonning Prize (Denmark)
2012, Legion D′honneur (France)
2010, Norman Mailer Prize, Lifetime Achievement (USA)
2008, Ovid Award (Romania)
2006, Nobel Prize in Literature (Sweden)
2006, Washington University′s Distinguished Humanist Award (United States)
2006, Puterbaugh Award (United States)
2005, Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Germany)
2005, Prix Médicis Etranger (France) for his novel "Snow : La Neige"
2005, Ricarda-Huch Prize
2003, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (Ireland) for his novel "My Name Is Red"
2002, Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger (France) for his novel "My Name Is Red : Mon Nom est Rouge"
2002, Premio Grinzane Cavour (Italy) for his novel "My Name Is Red"
1995, Prix France Culture (France) for his novel "Kara Kitap : Le Livre Noir"
1991, Prix de la Découverte Européenne (France) for the French edition of "Sessiz Ev : La Maison de Silence"
1991, Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival (Turkey) Best Original Screenplay Secret Face
1990, Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (United Kingdom) for his novel "The White Castle"
1984, Madarali Novel Prize (Turkey) for his novel "The House of Silence"
1983, Orhan Kemal Novel Prize (Turkey) for his novel "Cevdet Bey and His Sons"
1979, Milliyet Press Novel Contest Award (Turkey) for his novel "Karanlık ve Işık" (co-winner)
Doctorates (Honorary Degrees):
2007, Free University of Berlin, Department of Philosophy and Humanities
2007, Tilburg University
2007, Boğaziçi University, Department of Western Languages and Literatures
2007, Georgetown University
2008, Madrid University
2003, American University of Beirut
2008, Membership of the American Academy for Arts and Literature
2008, Membership of the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences
A Strangeness in My Mind
I am a Tree
The Secrets of the Black Book
Museum of Innocence
Memories and the City
My Name is Red
Cevdet Bey and His Sons
The White Castle
The Black Book
The New Life
The House of Silence
My Father's Suitcase
Fragments of the Landscape
The Innocence of Objects
The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist
Istanbul: Memories and the City
Some selected examples (please click on pictures to enlarge):